BALTIMORE — A couple of extras from what looked for awhile like a historic night at Camden Yards:
Believe it or not, Eddie Rosario has practiced the sort of play that preserved, at least momentarily, Kyle Gibson’s no-hitter on Saturday. The left fielder charged in to reach Trey Mancini’s line drive in the sixth, and made sure to keep his glove under it during the impact with the Camden Yards turf.
“It hit in here,” Rosario said, demonstrating where the ball struck his glove. “When I went to the floor, the glove [hit] and the ball went up. It was slow motion.” Rosario pantomimed the ball in front of his eyes, and his move to pluck it out of the air with his bare hand.
He’s made that play before, sort of.
“The outfield coach [Jeff Pickler], he has us practice everything,” Rosario said of an expanded set of drills the Twins instituted this spring. “Sometimes I lie on the [ground] and Pick throws balls at us. A lot of drills.”
Even having witnessed all that practice this month, Twins manager Paul Molitor didn’t expect Rosario to hold on to the ball.
“To be honest, when I saw it pop up, I shifted to the baserunners,” Molitor said. “My angle made it look like it hit him and was going to continue on. And then I heard everybody cheer, and I had to watch the replay. … It was a nice recovery.”
Molitor spoke before the game about Gibson’s increased confidence, and the way that using his fastball more was adding to it. All of which made his victory on Saturday, when his fastball was moving out of the strike zone yet he was still recording outs, more unexpected.
“He threw a lot of fastballs. We talk from time to time about strike-ball ratio and he was hovering around 50-50 there for most of his outing,” Molitor said. But a five-pitch fifth inning bought Gibson a sixth. “That one clean inning enabled him to go a little bit longer than we might have thought when we were staring at 70-75 [pitches] in the fourth. “
There was no apparent reason for the “effective wildness,” Molitor said. “It wasn’t that he wasn’t trying to be aggressive. He threw a lot of fastballs, decent pitches — just off, just up, just down. But he kept an aggressive mindset.”
Fortunately, Gibson said, his other pitches were effective, too.
“The changeup was back to normal. Thankfully, I found it again tonight. The curveball, one big thing was I shortened my arm a little bit and it allowed my hand speed to catch up and it was spinning out pretty good,” said Gibson, who has won seven consecutive decisions. “As long as I can keep that, I’ll be pretty happy.”
Ryan Pressly wants to keep him that way. Having allowed the hit that ended the Twins’ combined no-hit bid, Pressly shrugged. “I’ve got to figure out what to get him now that I messed that up,” he said.