Indians' Francisco Lindor homers in Puerto Rico for hometown fans

Lindor calls return to Puerto Rico 'special' (1:25)

Francisco Lindor reflects on his return to Puerto Rico and what it felt like to receive such a positive response from his home crowd. (1:25)

Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, playing before a hometown crowd in Puerto Rico, hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning of the team's' 6-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday to send the fans at Hiram Bithorn Stadium into a frenzy.

The crowd chanted his name until Lindor emerged from the dugout for a curtain call, raising both arms to the skies.

"I love the Cleveland Indians fans. I love them. They're supporters, big-time,'' Lindor said. "But this is where I grew up. These are my people. It's extremely special.''

It was a triumphant return for Lindor, who on Monday went back to his grammar school in Guyabo, his hometown, to see some of his former teachers and hold a clinic for students.

The Indians and the Twins are in Puerto Rico to play a two-game series in San Juan to give back to an island that was robbed of so much by Hurricane Maria in September.

In speaking with ESPN's Marly Rivera after Tuesday's game, Lindor said of the reception he received: "It was special, something I'll never forget."

"I want to thank everybody who came out to support us, and hopefully tomorrow I'll come out and do the same thing," added Lindor, who told ESPN that he featured a special message of thanks to Puerto Rico and his family on his cleats for the game.

Lindor made trips to Puerto Rico during the offseason, donating time and money for bottled water and other goods. In September, the Indians awarded a playoff share to help recovery efforts on the island, which was decimated by Hurricane Maria and where large areas remain without power.

Hiram Bithorn, which has hosted about four dozen MLB regular-season games over the past two decades, was hit hard by the storm and nearly $2 million in repairs were needed.

Light fixtures were broken and wound up being upgraded. Clubhouses and dugouts were repaired, and batting cages were rebuilt. The turf was damaged, signs were destroyed, a statue of Bithorn -- Puerto Rico's first big leaguer -- was knocked down and broken.

On Tuesday, everything was working when Lindor homered.

"Actually, my dream was to play at Hiram Bithorn, a stadium that, for many Puerto Ricans, belongs to the Major Leagues, to play so my parents could see me here, but my dreams didn't go that far," said Lindor.

He seemed to skip around the bases, crossed home plate and threw his arms into the air, enticing the already screaming crowd to go even louder. They obliged, and eventually Lindor emerged from the dugout for a curtain call -- in what technically was a road game, no less. The Indians were the visitors in this one.

No matter. Lindor seemed more at home than anyone else.

"It's the most beautiful thing I've ever felt in my life," said Maria Serrano, Lindor's mother.

"Our goal was to win, but it was pretty cool to see Frankie come through like that,'' Indians manager Terry Francona said. "To see the way the fans responded, and then to see how genuinely excited he was about it, it was pretty cool.''

Lindor and Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario, like Lindor a native Puerto Rican, will have more compatriots on the field with them in Wednesday's series finale, with the Twins sending right-hander Jose Berrios to the mound and the Indians set to start Roberto Perez at catcher.

"I wish [Berrios] good luck, but I hope we win. I think he bought about 700 tickets and will have half a stadium with him," Lindor said with a laugh.

Lindor finished 1-for-5 Tuesday, with the homer flanked by a pair of warning-track fly outs. Rosario was 1-for-4.

"These people need to cheer,'' Lindor said of the recovery from September's catastrophic storm.

In the fifth, he made it happen.

No. 9 hitter Bradley Zimmer hit a two-out double, and Lindor worked the count full. As horns blared, inflatable thundersticks clanged and fans -- including Lindor's mom -- screamed, Lindor turned on an offering from Minnesota starter Jake Odorizzi and lofted a long fly to right.

It barely cleared the wall, but it was enough.

Lindor waved both arms at the crowd after crossing the plate, then came out for a curtain call as delirious fans shouted his name. That started the undoing for Odorizzi, who was cruising before giving up three homers in a span of 10 pitches -- the last two by Ramirez and Brantley -- that ended his night and gave the Indians a 4-0 lead.

"There were many emotions in the field. When I hit the ball I didn't think the ball would go away. When I passed the first base is that I see the fans celebrating and when I get to second base I had a better view of where my family is, and then I realize that all the fans were standing, celebrating, they screamed, I screamed, they jumped and jumped with them, and that's the way I have to play, I have always been that way and I will not change," Lindor said.

ESPN's Hector Cruz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.