Home News Joey Gallo returns to Twins’ lineup, homers in win

Joey Gallo returns to Twins’ lineup, homers in win

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BOSTON — Watch out. The Twins’ offense is finally getting healthy.

Joey Gallo was the latest Minnesota hitter activated from the injured list when he rejoined the lineup on Wednesday, and he went right back to mashing with his team-leading fourth homer of the season as part of a two-hit return. Edouard Julien and Trevor Larnach also went deep as the Twins rebounded from Tuesday’s heartbreak with a 10-4 rout of the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

And the Twins might not be done adding yet, as second baseman Jorge Polanco could also be in line to rejoin the club during the team’s next homestand after he moved up to Triple-A St. Paul on Tuesday and played consecutive rehab games for the Saints.

“We’re not even really at full strength right now,” Gallo said. “It’s been a great start to the season for us, and we want to just keep that going and try to stay as healthy as we can and get guys back. Then we feel like we have a very, very good team.”

This week brought the Twins much closer to full strength, with Max Kepler coming off the IL during the Twins’ last series in New York and Gallo back following a 10-game absence due to right intercostal soreness. He spent his rehab assignment with Triple-A St. Paul just trying to get a feel for the game again — and he looked just fine against Red Sox starter Corey Kluber.

Gallo took a six-pitch plate appearance in the second inning before lining a sinker to right field for a single, and one inning later, he saw another six pitches and worked a 2-2 count before he lifted a curveball over the bullpens in right field for a Statcast-projected 417-foot homer.

“He took a bunch of pitches today, some close as well,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Again, he just got some pitches he could handle. He looked good at the plate. I was really happy.”

Gallo reached again in the fifth inning on a high popup that Red Sox second baseman Enmanuel Valdez couldn’t catch. And after striking out in the seventh, he nearly made it a two-homer performance twice during his plate appearance in the ninth inning, when he swatted a ball just foul down the short right-field line and flied out to deep right on a ball that would have been a homer in 24 ballparks — Target Field included.

“It’s always nice to come back and help the team and feel like you’re taking good swings and having good at-bats and impactful at-bats,” Gallo said. “For me, that’s part of preparing while I was hurt, still trying to stay in the mode and going to rehab with the Triple-A team just to get at-bats, just taking it seriously even if you’re on the IL, so you can come back and help the team immediately.”

Considering the Twins have faced mostly right-handed starters this season and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, getting Kepler and Gallo back really lengthens their lineup against right-handed pitchers like Kluber, and that’s not to mention the athleticism and solid hands Gallo has showed in his first season as a primary first baseman.

Gallo showcased that first-base ability right away, too, making a leaping, twisting snag on a higher chopper off the bat of Alex Verdugo in the fifth inning to start a 3-6-1 double play that stopped the Red Sox from doing more damage with runners on the corners and none out.

“Watching Gallo jump around at first today was pretty fun,” said Joe Ryan, who threw six strong innings and has seen the team win in his past eight outings, dating back to last season. “He made some great plays.”

Donovan Solano put together an 11-game hitting streak that went through Gallo’s absence and ended with an 0-for-4 performance in Tuesday’s series opener, but the Twins also missed Gallo’s game-changing swings as they averaged four runs per game in his absence, including five performances in which they were held to three or fewer runs.

And when Polanco returns to man the keystone, his left-handed swing has been one of the Twins’ most potent forces against right-handed pitching for some time, too. It feels — and looks — like they’re almost there.

“The guys that were in there can do something, but getting the whole gang back together, that’s starting right now,” Baldelli said. “So that felt good.”

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