Since 1961 the Twins have had some huge Home Runs hit against them (looking at you Didi Gregorious and Tom Lawless), but they've also hit their fair share of big ones. Most have come in the World Series, but two in particular in my mind, have been huge regular-season home runs. Below, I outline all of them and the reasons why I ranked them where I did. If you have any comments, please let me know below!
• 6. Brian Dozier--July 10, 2015 vs Tigers
The Twins came into this game 42-40 and were set up for a mid-July battle with the division rival Tigers. The Twins trailed six to one going into the bottom of the ninth, then the Twins bats came alive off Tigers closer Joakim Soria. After a two-run single by Danny Santana brought the Twins back to within a run at six to five, Brian Dozier stepped up and cranked the first pitch, with two runners on, into the LF bleachers for the win. The win, erased a 6-0 Tigers lead in the 8th inning, to this writer, is the most dramatic walkoff HR ( second biggest regular season HR in Twins history), in Target Field history. Listen to Dick Bremers call on this if you haven't, I can listen to it over and over.
• 5. Jacque Jones--April,1, 2002 vs Royals
After an entire off-season of contraction rumors from MLB, Bud Selig, and many news media outlets, Jacque Jones took the 2nd pitch of the season from Jeff Suppan and deposited it over the fence. Statement made. The Twins were here to stay, and it was a perfect way to kickoff what would be a special, but heartbreaking, season for the Twins and their fans. This HR, by extension the season, showed everyone nationally that the Twins deserved to be in MN, in MLB and weren't going to roll over and move to NC. Still one of my favorite HRs. It makes this list due to the statement it made after an off season of controversy and an unknown future.
• 4. A.J. Pierzynski--October 6, 2002 vs A's
The Twins were tied with the A's at two games each with a deciding game five, to determine who faced the Angels in the ALCS. With flamethrower Billy Koch on the mound, AJ Pierzynski stepped up and took the first pitch he saw over the RF fence to give the Twins a 4-1 lead. (Ortiz later homered to extend it to five to one). This wasn't the game-winner, but it was the most important as it extended the lead and gave the Twins the ability to win the game in the ninth, even if they gave up runs (which they did). It's the HR that's become synonymous with that series, and in my view, is the 4th most important one in Twins history, given the situation, and who it came off of.
• 3. Dan Gladden--October 17th, 1987 vs Cards
One of the most iconic HRs in Twins history is also one of the most important. The Twins, in their second WS in franchise history, had the Dome field advance. The crowd of 55,171 were waiving Homer hankies and waiting for something to cheer about, in the fifth inning, (newest) Twins HOFer Dan Gladden gave them just that. He deposited the second pitch from right-hander Bob Forsch over the LF fence into the bleachers. This lands at number three on the list because it took place in a WS game, it was Game one and for all intents and purposes, sealed the win for the Twins. It's one of the biggest and most iconic HRs in Twins history, but it's not even the most important one from this series by a Twin, what are the two above it?
• 2. Don Baylor,Kent Hrbek--October 24th, 1987.
This is kind of a cheat to add two guys to this spot, but honestly, they both deserve it, given the circumstances. With the Twins down five to two going into the bottom of the fifth, they scored a run on a Gaetti rbi, and then Don Baylor came up with the Twins down 5-3, and promptly hit a two-run home run off lefty John Tudor to tie the game at five. The Twins scored again that inning and made it six to five. In the sixth, Hrbek hit a GS to centerfield to give the Twins a 10-5 lead at the time. The Twins don't win this game, and therefore the series, without either of these two gigantic home runs, in the most clutch spots, with their season on the line. These land at two on the list because when I asked TK once at Twinsfest where ranked these he replied "behind Kirby, in front of everyone else". That was good enough for me!
• Kirby Puckett--October 26,1991 vs Braves
What else was it going to be? In the 11th inning, after telling Chili Davis he was thinking about bunting, to which Davis replied "bunt my a**", Kirby took a Charlie Leibrandt changeup on the outer half of the plate, into the LF bleachers, sending all 55,155 Twins fans into exuberant cheers, and giving the Twins new life in the series, after getting absolutely destroyed in ATL and coming back to MN down three games to two. It wasn't just that it was an extra-inning game. It was just that it was the World Series. It wasn't just that the Twins won the WS the next day, this comes in at number one because...it was Kirby. The best player, a fan favorite and a player that I, and many many other fans in the Twins Cities and all around Twins Territory idolized, just hit the biggest HR in team history. In the eyes of this (at the time 7-year-old)fan, it made Kirby something even more than a player, and almost larger than life. There wasn't anything he couldn't do on the field, this proved it. This was also the moment that I became a Twins fan and is the one lasting memories from my childhood that I will never forget. That day, Kirby went from a man to something more. A hero in all Twins fans eyes, it is also the day my love affair and undying fandom (and a lifetime of heartbreak, apparently) began.