Polanco, Sano key factors on offense

Polanco, Sano key factors on offense

CHICAGO -- While third baseman Miguel Sano and shortstop Jorge Polanco entered the year with questions about their defense, the Twins were hopeful they'd both be major parts of the offense this season.

So far, that's been the case as they've both been two of the club's hottest hitters and it was evident yet again in Sunday's 4-1 win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field to help the Twins improve to 5-1. Sano went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the eighth and a double in the second, while Polanco went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the seventh.

"It was a good win coming back after yesterday," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Polanco and Miggy kind of sealed the deal as far as offense was concerned."

All four of their hits were crushed, as Sano's double off ace Jose Quintana had an exit velocity of 109.1 mph and his two-run homer off reliever Nate Jones left the bat at 111 mph and went a projected 426 feet, per Statcast™. Polanco's single in the fourth left the bat at 104.3 mph and his homer off Quintana in the seventh had an exit velocity of 102.5 mph, going a projected 405 feet.

Sano's huge two-run homer

Sano, bouncing back after a bit of a sophomore slump last year, is hitting .350/.458/.850 with two homers, two doubles, a triple and eight RBIs in six games.

"It's been a great start," Molitor said. "He seems to be seeing the ball well. He expands occasionally but he's making guys throw him strikes. He's had some really good battles with two strikes, including that double in the second."

One of the more encouraging signs about Sano is he's struck out seven times in 24 plate appearances, and both of his extra-base hits on Sunday came with two strikes. Four of his seven hits this year are with two strikes.

"I've been working hard to hit with two strikes," Sano said. "I've been working a lot with a tee. I'm trying to put the ball in play."

Polanco, meanwhile, is batting .389/.450/.667 with a homer, two doubles and four RBIs in five games. He's not known for his power, but after a long foul off Quintana that likely would've been a homer if it weren't for the wind, hit the next pitch he saw for his first homer of the year.

"I wanted to go up and away," Quintana said. "I was in the zone. I was trying to [give him] something to chase, missed the spot a little bit. He hit the ball good, though."

Polanco, a switch-hitter, has been batting in the second half of the lineup early this season, but could see himself moved up into the two-hole with the way he's been swinging the bat.

"I've been feeling good so far," Polanco said. "I've been having good at-bats."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.