April 18 (UPI) — Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor drove the crowd into bedlam by smacking a home run against the Minnesota Twins in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The blast came in the top of the fifth inning Tuesday at Hiram Birthorn Stadium.
Lindor — a Caguas, Puerto Rico, native — stepped in to face Twins right-handed starter Jake Odorizzi with two outs down in the frame.
The man who grew up with the nickname “Paquito” worked a full count against Odorizzie before pouncing on his sixth offering. Lindor turned on a 73-mph breaking ball, sending it to right field. The crowd of nearly 20,000 waited for the ball to barely clear the fence before breaking out in a chorus of “Paquito” and “Lindor” chants.
Lindor saluted first base coach — and fellow Puerto Rico native — Sandy Alomar Jr. as he rounded the bases, following the two-run shot. He also waved his arms in the air, trying to raise the volume of the cheers in the already rocking ball park.
He also emerged from the dugout after the crowd begged for a curtain call.
“I’m in Puerto Rico in front of my family,” Lindor told reporters. “In front of my friends, in front of this beautiful Puerto Rican crowd and I’m just excited. I touched second base and looked in the dugout. Everybody’s hands are up, so I put my hands up. I looked around the stadium, everybody’s are up, so I keep putting my hands up and running. I was celebrating. It’s extremely emotional.”
The shortstop’s blast gave the Tribe a 2-0 lead. Cleveland got home runs from Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley in the sixth inning, pushing the lead to 4-0. Michael Brantley hit an RBI single in the seventh inning and Yonder Alonso went yard in the top of the eight frame.
Brian Dozier hit an RBI double in the seventh inning for the Twins’ only run in the 6-1 setback.
Lindor was 1-for-5 with two RBIs, a run scored and a strikeout for the Indians.
“With Frankie and all of the pressure of playing at home and all that stuff, we’re rooting for him and he stepped up in a big way,” Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “It was a great swing for us. It was cool to see.”