DUNEDIN, Fla. — It was a holiday here Tuesday along the Gulf Coast. Don’t know if you heard.
“It’s Puerto Rico day,” Kennys Vargas announced.
Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey must not have been in on the celebration, but he had a hand in it. He left a knuckleball hanging up high in the strike zone to Vargas. He ill-advisedly tried an 85-mph fastball against Eddie Rosario. Both launched those baseballs high and deep toward their Caribbean island home, leading the Twins to a 5-3 win over Toronto.
“I don’t see knuckleballs very often,” Vargas said. “I just try to stay back, don’t get in front. Find a pitch high in the zone. Then — Boom!”
Vargas’ blast cleared the fence just to the right of the batter’s background, 400 feet away, in the second inning. In the fourth inning, Dickey used knucklers to fool Rosario and get ahead 0-2.
And then the veteran righthander made an odd choice. “Maybe he thinks with two strikes, he try a fastball in and maybe I don’t swing,” Rosario guessed. “But I see the fastball.”
Indeed he did, whipping his bat at it and lining it to straightaway right, over an eight-foot wall about 345 feet away.
“Dickey tried to sneak a fastball by him,” manager Paul Molitor said, “and he’s not a guy you really want to do that to.”
Molitor was pleased by Vargas’ blast, too. “We’ve been trying to get him to see the ball a little longer and not try to muscle the ball as much,” Molitor said. “He did a good job of staying with the pitch.”