After Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano was suspended and fined on Tuesday for pointing his bat and yelling at Detroit Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd then throwing a punch at catcher James McCann, Sano made his return on Thursday (also his birthday) against the Chicago White Sox.
Putting it simply, the 24-year-old's day hurt Chicago more than any punch would have hurt McCann.
Sano began his day with a one-out walk in the top of the first off left-hander Derek Holland in what would end up being a four-run first inning for Minnesota. One inning later, he launched a 79.3 mph knuckle curve from Holland into the seats in right for a solo blast to make it 5-0, Twins. Sano walked yet again in the fifth and would later score on a double by Eduardo Escobar.
Overall, Sano finished his day 1-for-2 with a solo home run, two walks and two runs scored in an eventual 7-6 victory over the White Sox. The shot in the second was his ninth of the year and improved his slash line to .304/.441/.667 with an impressive OPS of 1.108. According to FanGraphs, his wRC+ of 198 leads all major league third baseman with at least 100 plate appearances this season.
Of course, one should expect this performance to digress a tad, but anytime you're on pace for 48 home runs, 156 runs batted in and 90 total extra-base hits, something has to be going right. This surge has also helped his squad move ahead of the reigning American League champion Cleveland Indians for first place in the AL Central with a 17-14 (.548) record. At this point a season ago, the Twins were 8-25 (.242) and sat 14 games out of first place in the division.