Sano's first shot was a three-run homer in the third inning to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead. Then he hit another homer to a nearly identical spot in the left-field seats for some ninth-inning insurance.
Both Nick Franklin and Evan Longoria homered for the Rays, but Tampa Bay found little offense elsewhere against Twins starter Kyle Gibson and the Minnesota bullpen. Gibson needed 107 pitches to get through five innings, but he allowed just two runs, and the 'pen was nearly spotless after him.
Tampa Bay starter Matt Andriese was pulled after 76 pitches and 4 2/3 innings. He was limited, because he's still building up his pitch count after returning to the rotation with the trade of Matt Moore to the Giants. Andriese's only major blemish was Sano's first home run, but it was enough.
"It was just a matter of a one-pitch mistake, pretty much," Andriese said. "Just didn't execute on a fastball to Sano there, and he hit it out for three runs. All in all, I felt pretty decent about my outing. But like I said, it was one pitch."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sano makes a statement: While the three-run dinger helped power the Twins to a win, it may have helped Sano even more, personally. With Plouffe set to return from the disabled list Monday, Sano was regarded as a candidate to be sent down to the Minors. He took Andriese deep and followed it up with another long ball in the top of the ninth.
"It's impressive when you're struggling and it just switches back and all the sudden, you're just hitting homers," said Sano of his big road trip, that saw him go 8-for-23 with three homers. "You start seeing better pitches. You start taking walks. When it happens to me, I like the approach."
Dead Central: With the Rays down, 3-1, in the fourth inning, Franklin blasted a 91-mph fastball right down the middle for a home run to dead center field. It was just his second home run of the season, and it cut the Minnesota lead in half. Franklin finished 2-for-4 on the afternoon.
"Offensively, we had some good at-bats, we had some opportunities," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. We got a couple runs. But it seemed Gibson was willing to bend, but didn't break."
Through the 5-hole: After voicing his displeasure at being forced to move from shortstop with the trade for Matt Duffy, Brad Miller made a crucial error at short. With a runner at first and one out in the seventh, he let a ground ball from Robbie Grossman go through his legs. It led to an unearned run and a 4-2 lead for the Twins.
"I heard [Alex Rodriguez's] pregame interview, and you can tell, despite a lot things people said about him, the guy played with a lot of passion. He cared a lot and obviously was a superstar player. Obviously it was a difficult situation for him, but I wish him nothing but the best." -- Cash, on Rodriguez's last game
Rodriguez's last game is set for Friday against the Rays, with Chris Archer on the mound.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Longoria's eighth-inning home run was his seventh of the season against Minnesota in seven games. He doesn't have more than three against any other team this season. It's also the fifth time in his career that he's reached the 25-home run mark, and the first time since 2013.
Minnesota second baseman Brian Dozier extended his American League-leading hitting streak to 16 games by going 2-for-5 on Sunday. It's the longest hitting streak by a Twins player since Joe Mauer had a 16-game hit streak in 2014.
With runners on first and second in the top of the first for the Twins, Max Kepler hit a sharp grounder to shortstop Miller. Miller's throw to Logan Forsythe came in high, with second-base umpire Tom Hallion ruling that Forsythe left the bag before making the catch. The Rays challenged the call, which was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Minnesota starts a four-game series at home against Houston, as Brian Dozier looks to extend his American League-leading hit streak to 18 games. Tyler Duffey (6-8, 6.21) takes the mound for the 7:10 p.m. CT tilt against Collin McHugh.
Rays:Jake Odorizzi (6-5, 3.70) will look to extend his scoreless streak of 20 2/3 innings when the Rays travel to Toronto for a 7:07 p.m. ET game. The Rays' franchise record is 27 1/3 innings, set by reliever J.P. Howell in 2012, so Odorizzi needs seven scoreless innings to top that mark.