The Minnesota Twins are running through the final stretch of a lost season but nobody told that to Jorge Polanco.
The Twins shortstop continued his recent tear on Sunday with two home runs, helping Minnesota pick up a 7-5 victory over the Houston Astros.
Polanco entered Sunday's game as one of the hottest hitters in baseball hitting .316/.357/.598 since July 4. With two blasts on Sunday, Polanco now has an American League-leading 11 home runs in that stretch to jump-start the Twins' offense.
Minnesota jumped out to a 3-2 lead on Sunday before Polanco stepped to the plate in the fifth inning. After Miguel Sanó tied Polanco for the team lead with his 18th home run of the season in the fourth, Polanco took it back with an opposite-field home run into the Crawford Boxes that put the Twins ahead 4-2.
After the Astros chipped into the lead with an RBI single from Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the fifth, Polanco stayed hot with a three-run blast in the sixth for his 20th homer of the season and a 7-3 lead for the Twins.
Minnesota's bullpen made things interesting but closed it out to pick up its first series win in Houston since 2014. But the bigger story is Polanco's performance down the stretch and his bid to be the Twins' starting shortstop in 2022.
That doesn't come without risk. Polanco was one of baseball's worst defensive shortstops between the 2019 and 2020 seasons, ranking 35th of 36 qualifiers with -21 outs below average. Although Polanco was better in 2020 (+1), it was enough for the Twins to make the switch to Andrelton Simmons this offseason.
Simmons has been as good as advertised in the field with 13 outs above average (third among MLB shortstops) but his performance at the plate has been a problem. Entering Sunday's game, Simmons' .564 OPS would have been the third-lowest in Twins history and has put a black hole at the end of the lineup.
With Simmons unlikely to return to the team next season and top prospect Royce Lewis not playing in a game since 2019, that leaves an opening for next season. If Polanco keeps hitting like this could be the answer.