When the Minnesota Twins drafted Royce Lewis out of high school with the first overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, they envisioned him starring in playoff victories at Target Field. That vision became reality on Tuesday.
In his first career playoff game, the 24-year-old crushed home runs in his first two at-bats, driving in all of his team’s runs in a 3-1 victory over Toronto in Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series. The win snapped an MLB-record 18-game postseason losing streak for the Twins.
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) October 3, 2023
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) October 3, 2023
Lewis became the third player in history with home runs in his first two MLB playoff plate appearances. And it marked his first multi-homer game at the big-league level.
When asked if he was surprised by himself hitting two home runs in a game of this magnitude, he praised God.
“That’s a God thing,” Lewis said in the postgame press conference. “I’m just blessed to be a part of it. I mean, it felt like I was blacked out in the whole game, but especially in those moments when I was on the field. My heart was racing.”
Lewis went to sleep Monday night unsure if he’d even play in the game. He suffered a hamstring strain Sept. 19 and missed the rest of the regular season. But he woke up Tuesday feeling good, so manager Rocco Baldelli put Lewis, normally a third baseman, in the lineup as the designated hitter.
An oblique strain also hampered Lewis this season, as he appeared in only 58 MLB games. But that was more than the 12 he got in 2022, his debut stint in the majors. Over 70 career regular-season MLB games, Lewis is hitting .307 with 17 home runs and 57 RBIs.
Unfortunately, injuries have plagued Lewis ever since he was drafted. He tore the ACL in his right knee in February 2021, only to rehab and return — and tear the same ACL in May 2022. He returned from that injury on May 11, 2023, by starting in Double-A for two games, then Triple-A for eight games, before returning to the Twins on May 29.
Throughout his challenges, Lewis has remained positive and relied on his faith in Christ. He lists 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 in his Instagram bio, a Bible verse that reads, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
“I think it helps that I’m literally living my best life and dream,” Lewis told MLB.com after his second ACL tear. “And just the blessing I’ve had, that God has bestowed upon me and my family, for me to be able to take care of my family and myself. I just appreciate the opportunity, and I know He’s not taking that away. It’s just a pause, just another setback that honestly will push me forward and propel me to greater heights.”
Just prior to his second ACL tear, Lewis spoke with Olympic gold medalist Christian Taylor on the “Heaven to the Yeah” podcast. Lewis shared about his mindset through the rehab process, and also about his faith journey. He said he “grew up in Christ” at home with his parents, and the family regularly attended church until his baseball tournaments began taking over their weekends. But the family watched as many sermons online as possible, something Lewis continues to this day.
“We’ve got all these social media outlets now like YouTube and Netflix, and [I’m] continuing to learn and grow faith through there,” he said on the podcast. “I watch a lot of sermons, probably three in a week, and usually I do watch them all on Sunday just because Sunday’s my day of no workouts, chilling out, a true day of rest in the offseasons.”
Lewis was asked what it’s like to be a Christian in a pro baseball locker room, and he described his mindset of trying to be like a fragrance.
“You put off this fragrance, and my goal is to just keep that fragrance smelling strong, beautiful, and light it up with glowing images so God can flow through me and work His way out toward other people,” he said.
To end the interview, Lewis was asked to give some encouragement to new or young believers.
“I would just say from my own personal experience that God has never left you, and He’s never going to abandon you,” he said. “So if you ever feel at times that you’re not worthy enough to be involved with Christ or that you don’t deserve it, that’s all wrong. I’ll just tell you that right now — that’s all wrong.
“I’ve been there before; I have, truly. Sometimes you believe you’re not worthy because Christ is almighty. He is everything. He is love, He is peace, He is everything. … Especially when you’re young, I think you can learn so much. Don’t stray away too far because He’s always right there. As soon as you say, ‘I’m good, I’m walking away,’ He’s still walking behind you in the shadow.”
Lewis and the Twins host the Blue Jays again Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET. Another Twins victory would advance them to the AL Division Series against Houston.
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