Nelson Cruz is hardly slowing down. If anything, he’s heating up.
The 39-year-old Minnesota slugger extended his recent tear Saturday night, hitting three home runs in a game for the second time in 10 days and powering the AL Central-leading Twins to an 11-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
A day after he homered, doubled twice and drove in five runs, Cruz again had five RBIs.
Cruz hit a two-run homer in the first inning, a solo drive in the second and a two-run shot in the sixth. He didn’t get a chance at a record-tying fourth home run – he was left on deck when Jorge Polanco grounded out to end the eighth.
Cruz has 11 homers and 23 RBIs in his last nine starts.
Cruz connected for a career-high three homers on July 25 against the White Sox, and matched that mark against the Royals. He has 30 homers this year and 390 for his career, tying Graig Nettles for 62nd place.
Only two other players have had two three-homer games within 10 days. Doug DeCinces did it for the California Angels on Aug. 3 and Aug. 8, 1982, and Johnny Mize did it for the St. Louis Cardinals on July 13 and July 20, 1938.
Cruz is the first Twins player to have multiple three-homer games in the same season. He’s hit at least 30 homers in six consecutive seasons. Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion are the only other active players to have accomplished that.
Polanco and C.J. Cron also homered for the Twins, who lead Cleveland by three games.
Jorge Soler homered and Meibrys Viloria had two RBIs for the Royals, who have lost five consecutive games and eight of nine.