OK, so where’s Jake Cave’s bobblehead?
For the second night in a row, Cave caught the spirit of the Twins’ “Nothing Falls but Raindrops” philosophy of outfielding, mostly by catching a fly ball — on the first pitch of the game — that had cleared the center field wall. Thus inspired, his fellow outfielders joined in, Max Kepler with a 400-foot home run, Eddie Rosario with two hits and a howitzer of a throw to prevent another run, and the Twins enjoyed a 6-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Target Field.
“I’m having a lot of fun. I play as hard as I can, like I try to always do,” said Cave, who has done a reasonable impression, in Byron Buxton’s absence, of his Platinum Glove-winning teammate, immortalized this season, like Kepler and Rosario, in bobblehead form. “Sometimes when you do that, you put yourself in good position to make good plays.”
This one was so good, the player he victimized, Orioles third baseman Tim Beckham, tipped his helmet in Cave’s direction as he turned toward the dugout. Beckham belted the first pitch out of Lance Lynn’s hand, a low four-seam fastball, toward the grass berm 400 feet from home plate. Cave tore after it, timed his jump perfectly, and pulled the ball back.
“I kind of just saw a ball go up and reacted. Pretty sure I had a good bead on it, though,” Cave said of the first homer-robbing catch of his professional career. “It’s up there with actually hitting a home run. It’s cool to be able to help the pitcher like that and take one back.”
Lynn appreciated the help, and responded with six solid innings, giving up one run on six singles and a walk. “It looks like he’s really got command of his fastball. He can notch it up when he needs to,” manager Paul Molitor said. “We saw the velocity when he reached back and hit the mid-90s. It was just a good effort overall.”
Even better: The Twins staked Lynn to a six-run lead. Three consecutive singles to start the game produced a run right away, and an error by Beckham helped make it a three-run inning.
The Twins added three more in the fourth, two coming when Kepler, with his parents visiting from Berlin, connected on a Dylan Bundy changeup that landed in the right-center seats. Cave followed with a single, and he eventually scored on Joe Mauer’s single that chased Bundy.
The Orioles tried to rally once Lynn departed, but Rosario took care of that. With runners on first and second, a run in and one out in the seventh, Manny Machado hit a sharp single to left off Ryan Pressly — so sharp, Rosario assumed Beckham would stop at third.
“Usually I hear guys yelling ‘home, home, home,’ but I didn’t” this time, Rosario said. “But I look up and I saw the third base coach sending him home, so I was like, ‘I’m not going to lose this opportunity.’ ”
His throw was perfect, a one-hopper that easily beat Beckham at the plate. It was Rosario’s seventh assist of 2018, and he celebrated by pretending to blow smoke away from the fingers on his right hand.
“Sometimes when I have a hard throw, good throw, the fans they feel good, and they say good job,” Rosario said of the gesture. “I have fun with them.”
He is hoping for even more fun Sunday, when the All-Star team is announced. Being part of that would be even better than having a bobblehead, he said.
“Everybody that plays this game wants to be an All-Star. I set a goal that I proposed for myself before the season started,” Rosario said. “I don’t know what will happen.”
For now, just winning back-to-back games, the first time the Twins have done that since June 19-20, is fun enough.
“We still play hard,” Rosario said. “Cave is doing a good job at the plate, and catching the ball at the wall. It’s really impressive.”
Impressive enough to get his own bobblehead?
“Maybe next year,” Rosario said with a smile.