CLEVELAND – Eddie Rosario couldn't get the Indians to throw him a strike in his first trip to the plate Saturday, so he apparently vowed not to let another one go by. That is how Rosario wound up with two singles, a double and a home run — on just four pitches.
Rosario is so hot, he's ignited his teammates now, too, and together the Twins crushed Cleveland 9-3 at Progressive Field to pull within four games of the AL Central leaders.
"He's been hot for a while. But right now, he feels like he can hit just about anything. People are trying different things, offspeed, fastballs, in, out, it doesn't seem to matter," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I don't remember what that feels like, but he's in a good place."
Rosario, batting .450 on this road trip so far and .470 against the Indians this season, is making it good for nearly everyone else, too. Joe Mauer was 0-for-his-past-9, Logan Morrison 2-for-15, and Max Kepler 0-for-16 before becoming part of the Rosario Inferno on Saturday, contributing to rallies that Rosario was fueling.
"Him and Esco [Eduardo Escobar], I don't know what percent of our offense they've been, but they continue," Molitor said. "Maybe guys are starting to get that feel, from top to bottom."
Especially at the top, and especially in the first inning. For the fourth straight day, the Twins scored immediately, and for the fourth straight day, Rosario was in the middle of it. Mauer led off the game with a single, Rosario drew a walk, and both scored when Escobar followed with a double to the base of the wall in right-center.
"For me, my first at-bat is the most important. I try to have a good at-bat, a base hit or a walk. Maybe better," Rosario said. "The first at-bat [Saturday] was a good one for me — a 3-and-2 walk. Changeup facing [Carlos] Carrasco. Everything is going good."
It got better for the Twins right away. They loaded the bases and Kepler just missed a grand slam, settling for a two-run double off the right field wall to give the Twins a four-run inning and 10 first-inning runs just in the past week.
Rosario didn't stop — he just sped up. In his next four at-bats, the 26-year-old outfielder swung at the first pitch and produced four consecutive hits, each of them triggering or furthering a Twins rally. Of course, he also killed a scoring chance with some overaggressive baserunning, tagging up and starting to run to an already-occupied base. But that's just part of the Rosario Experience, too, his manager said.
"It's kind of his whole game — baserunning, he tried to make a throw today that got away from him — he's just going to do things," Molitor shrugged. "Most of them are good."
Rosario singled, stole second and scored on Morrison's double in the second inning, and he singled in a run in the seventh, scoring himself on another Morrison double. And to top it off, Rosario lined an Adam Plutko pitch into the right field stands in the eighth inning, giving him six home runs in the Twins' past four games with Cleveland.
"I feel more comfortable when I play against the Indians," said Rosario, who has homered six times in eight games against Cleveland this season. "I know what the pitcher will throw me in the situation. For example, a man on third base, man on first base, lefty. He's not going to throw me a fastball. He's going to throw me a slider. So I wait on the pitch. Everything I see, I'm hitting."