Nelson Cruz is conducting his own personal home run derby this week.
Fresh off the first three-homer game of his career, the 39-year-old Cruz will look to add to his impressive homer streak when the Minnesota Twins visit the Chicago White Sox on Friday in the second contest of a four-game series.
Cruz has smashed six homers in the past four games and his blasts in Thursday's 10-3 win in the series opener measured 473, 433 and 430 feet.
"Just lucky. Just reacting to pitchers," Cruz said in downplaying his accomplishment in a postgame interview with Fox Sports North. "At the end of the day, it's about winning games."
Cruz has hit eight homers in the past nine games to raise his season total to 25. He is one of 10 Minnesota players with at least 10 blasts in what has been a homer-happy campaign for the Twins.
"Baseball is crazy," Cruz said. "I know for sure we have a pretty good team and we keep hitting homers. ... I think we're playing pretty good."
Cruz is 8-for-14 with six homers and 12 RBIs in four games against Chicago this season.
Minnesota hit five blasts in Thursday's win to set a major league record with nine games of at least five homers. The 1977 Boston Red Sox had eight such games.
The Twins also lead the majors with 199 dingers, just one shy of marking the fifth 200-homer campaign in franchise history.
Minnesota's record of 225 homers was set in 1963 when Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew led the charge with 45.
While the Twins remain two games ahead of the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central, the White Sox are struggling with 11 setbacks in their past 14 games.
Chicago has scored just four runs during a three-game losing streak. The White Sox were just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position in Thursday's loss and also suffered an embarrassing baserunning blunder in the eighth inning when Jose Abreu didn't re-touch second base while heading back to first base on a deep flyout to left.
"It was a huge lapse and it stands out because you're getting your rear end handed to you like that," Chicago manager Rick Renteria told reporters after the game.
Yoan Moncada was a bright spot for the White Sox by hitting his 19th homer of the season. He has gone deep three times in the past eight contests.
Right-hander Michael Pineda (6-5, 4.41 ERA) will be on the mound for the Twins on Friday against White Sox rookie right-hander Dylan Cease (1-2, 6.19).
The 30-year-old Pineda had control issues in his last outing on Sunday, matching his career worst of five walks while receiving a no-decision against the Oakland Athletics. Pineda gave up three runs and four hits and struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings.
Pineda has allowed one earned run in each of his past three turns, going 2-1 with 20 strikeouts against two walks.
Pineda beat the White Sox on June 29, when he struck out eight and gave up one run and four hits over six innings. He is 2-3 with a 3.19 ERA in five career outings against the White Sox.
Ryan Goins has seen the ball well against Pineda as he is 5-for-11 with three doubles. Abreu is hitless in seven at-bats against Pineda.
Cease is making his fourth start for the White Sox since being recalled earlier this month.
The 23-year-old lost to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday as he served up a second-inning grand slam to Travis d'Arnaud. He departed after five innings as he allowed four runs and three hits.
Cease has struck out 17 in 16 innings, but has issued nine walks and served up three homers.
--Field Level Media