Twins rookie Chris Colabello showing power potential

Chris Colabello exhibited power all season in the minor leagues. Monday, he showed off that strength at the major league level.

Colabello homered twice Monday against Houston, including a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the ninth inning — his first career grand slam — to give Minnesota its first lead of the game en route to a 10-6, come-from-behind win at Minute Maid Park. The 29-year-old Colabello also hit a solo homer in the game in what was easily his most memorable day as a big leaguer.

“A couple big swings by Mr. Colabello,” said manager Ron Gardenhire.

Facing Astros reliever Chia-Jen Lo with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, Colabello jumped on the first pitch and sent the 94 mph fastball over the fence in right-center field. It landed in nearly the same spot that his first homer of the game did, but this one proved to be a slightly bigger blast.

One inning earlier, Colabello had a chance to drive in a run with Doug Bernier on second base and one out. But Colabello struck out looking for the second out of the inning.

“Obviously I would have liked to have had a little better at-bat,” Colabello said of the eighth inning. “I held myself pretty accountable going up there (in the ninth) and said, ‘Make sure you put a good swing on something early. Stay aggressive.’ Thankfully, it worked out.”

Colabello’s first homer of the day came in the top of the fourth inning and was one of three solo homers by Minnesota on Monday. Colabello drove one to right-center to cut Houston’s lead 6-3. At that point, the Twins had plenty of work to do in order to set up Colabello’s grand slam opportunity in the ninth. But after scoring runs in the fifth and eighth innings, Minnesota entered the ninth inning with a 6-all tie.

It’s been quite the year for Colabello, who now has 30 total home runs between Triple-A Rochester (24) and the Twins (6). His impressive numbers at Rochester helped earn him the International League’s Most Valuable Player, even though the award was given while he was in the majors.

Monday marked Colabello’s 37th game in the big leagues. He hasn’t hit for average — he was batting just .183 entering Monday’s game — but he has shown flashes of power. The 29-year-old Colabello hit four homers in his first 36 games, and added to that total by two Monday.

Now that the Twins have traded first baseman Justin Morneau to Pittsburgh, Colabello figures to get plenty of playing time in the final month of the season. While he can play the corner outfield, Colabello is a natural first baseman. In Morneau’s absence, Colabello should get the majority of the starts at first base the rest of the way.

He made the most of his chance on Monday.

“That was pretty nice swings, driving the ball,” Gardenhire said. “That’s a big day for him. We needed it.”

FOX Sports North’s Jamie Hersch contributed to this report.

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