The Twins had scored 16 runs on Tuesday in clobbering the San Diego Padres, and then they came back to score once in nine innings Wednesday night in Target Field.
The sole run came in the second and was delivered in a unique manner that it takes Eddie Rosario to deliver. He led off the inning with a line drive into the right-center gap for a double off Dinelson Lamet, the Padres’ talented rookie.
Byron Buxton followed by a hitting a ball deep toward Manuel Margot, San Diego’s center fielder. The baserunning play here for Rosario was to tag up and get to third with one out, after Margot made the catch.
And if Margot didn’t catch it, if the ball got over his head, Rosario would score anyway — or wind up at third with no outs. Neither of those scenarios came into play, since Rosario ran off second, and then couldn’t get back to tag when Margot made the routine catch.
Except, maybe Eddie had this figured out all along, as his mind does work a bit different from most other ballplayers. He’s aggressive at the plate, on the bases, with his throws, and he is not intimidated about taking his shot in any situation.
So, here he was standing at second, not third, but then Lamet threw a wild pitch that got a few feet away from catcher Austin Hedges, and Rosario took off for third. Hedges threw the ball past third, and Rosario came home with the game’s first run — the Twins only run in nine innings.
And here’s the deal: If Eddie had been at third, as he should have been, he would not have been able to advance home on the wild pitch that wasn’t far from home, but he was able to score on a wild throw as he advanced to third, which meant Rosario — different cat that he is — was right all along.
Huh? Yeah, I know. Hang with us here.
The Twins managed to nurse that single run all the way to the eighth, although they wouldn’t have been nursing if they hadn’t messed up a beautiful opportunity to put the game away in the bottom of the seventh.
It was a half-inning in which they managed to chase Lamet and load the bases with no outs. Robbie Grossman faced lefthander Buddy Baumann, and committed the mortal sin of bouncing into a short-to-home-to-first double play. Brian Dozier followed with a strikeout and it was still 1-0, and not for long.
Hedges made up for his bad throw trying to get Rosario much earlier by hitting a game-tying home run off Trevor Hildenberger in the eighth. Hey, the fly ball just barely made it to a flower box in left-center, but it was 1-1, and then on to extra innings.
This truly had the odor of one of those losses the Twins would come to regret, if they were to fall short in this improbable bid to go from 59-103 in 2016 to a wild card in 2017.
You don’t score with the bases loaded in the seventh, and the rookie reliever who has been outstanding gives up a game-tying home run, and something bad is going to happen.
Fortunately for the Twins, Rosario doesn’t recognize such scents of gloom when he goes to the plate. Eddie knows he has the tremendous hands to hit any pitch, as long as he’s not hacking at a ball cap-high or flailing at a breaking ball in the righthanded batter’s box.
There’s no one more certain that Eddie can hit than Eddie himself.
So now it was the 10th, and Matt Belisle had gotten the Twins five outs to get them to the bottom of the inning still tied. Joe Mauer had singled with one out, and Jorge Polanco popped out, and that brought up Rosario against righthander Phil Maton.
Eddie got into a 2-0 count, which he has done more often over the past couple of month, and then Maton came with a fastball on the inner half.
Eddie. Fastball. Where those lightning hands can get to it.
It was high, and it was deep, and it was down the line, and all the baseball had to do was to stay fair and it did.
Twins 3, San Diego 1.
All three runs produced by Rosario — one with base running only Eddie might be able to get away with, and the last two on a pitch where those magic hands were pulled through in a powerful instant to send the baseball into the night.