Cruz joins 400-HR club on swat No. 40

MINNEAPOLIS — A prodigious second-half power show from Twins slugger Nelson Cruz culminated in history on Sunday afternoon at Target Field.

Cruz crushed an opposite-field solo homer off Kansas City reliever Gabe Speier in the fourth inning to become the 57th member of Major League Baseball’s 400-homer club. Led by Cruz’s big swing, two towering homers from Miguel Sanó and three RBI doubles from Eddie Rosario, the Twins closed their regular-season home schedule with a 12-8 win over the Royals.

The victory reduced Minnesota’s magic number to clinch the American League Central to three, with Cleveland set to square off against Philadelphia later in the evening.

The blast made Cruz the ninth Dominican-born player to reach the 400-homer mark, joining names like Albert Pujols, Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramírez, David Ortiz, Adrian Beltré, Vladimir Guerrero, Edwin Encarnación and Alfonso Soriano. It also marked Cruz’s team-leading 40th bomb of the season, joining Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron as the only players in MLB history to hit the mark at age 39 or older.

“Growing up, I never thought to be able to hit that many home runs,” Cruz said earlier this week. “It’s definitely a blast to be a part of baseball history. So it’s just, I guess, one season at a time, grow to the moment.”

Cruz is the 26th player in MLB history with at least four seasons of 40-plus long balls after having reached the mark in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He is also the third player in Twins history to go yard 40 times in a season, joining Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew and Brian Dozier.