It was cold Wednesday night, but there were plenty of leftover notes from the Twins’ 6-5 loss. Here are a few of them:
Paul Molitor understands what Eddie Rosario was trying to do. He appreciates that the young left fielder was thinking strategically.
But the execution? Not so good.
Rosario was charged with his second error of the season Wednesday, and it was an embarrassing one: He allowed a fairly routine fly ball to drop, a mistake that turned into an extra run for the Indians — the difference in a one-run game.
With one out and Jason Kipnis on third base in the fifth inning, Cleveland’s lead was only 4-3. Michael Brantley hit a fly ball near the left-field line, a likely sacrifice fly. But Rosario clearly thought he could throw Kipnis out at the plate, so he hung back from the ball until the last few seconds, hoping to catch it on the run.
Trouble is, the wind was howling in at his back, and the fly ball didn’t carry as far as Rosario expected. He had to suddenly speed up, and by the time he reached it, the ball had bounced away.
“As he does fairly well, he tried on a difficult play to get behind the ball to give him a chance to make a throw. You don’t want to criticize that aspect, but catching the ball is a priority,” Molitor understated. “It fooled him, and in trying to get in position, he ended up not making a play on the ball.”
Brantley wound up on second base, and a few moments later, Mike Napoli singled him home to extend the lead to 6-3. The Twins rallied to within one run, but couldn’t make up that last run.
The Twins mounted a rally in the ninth inning, with a steady drizzle falling, and the few hundred fans remaining on a cold night clearly expected to see the Twins claim a walk-off win for the third night in a row.
(That’s something that has happened only twice before in franchise history, by the way: July 13-15, 1974, and Sept. 3-5, 1987.)
With one out, Danny Santana singled to center, his third hit of the night and sixth in 10 at-bats as the leadoff hitter these past two days. Santana didn’t stay there long; he quickly stole second base, against the same battery (pitcher Cody Allen and catcher Yan Gomes) that threw him out in the ninth inning one night earlier. “We had a conversation about not being afraid of being thrown out,” Molitor said.
Brian Dozier battled the Indians’ closer for eight pitches before striking out, bringing up Joe Mauer. And he, too, made Allen work.
Mauer fouled off three strikes before working the count to 3-and-2. And on a 92-mph fastball, Mauer hit the ball hard into the left-center cap, about 375 feet. But the wind kept it in the ballpark, and center fielder Tyler Naquin caught up to it for the final out.
“Joe, as he’s done all year, gave it a really good battle,” Molitor said. “Just couldn’t get the last hit. It’s tough to lose after a couple good wins at home.”
Mauer, incidentally, walked twice, meaning he has reached base in all 22 games this season.
The Twins’ tribute to Prince will live on.
The lineup card from Monday’s game, which featured the release of doves, a moment of silence in honor of Minnesota’s musical icon, and plenty of Prince tunes all night long, was signed — in purple ink — by the players, coaches, managers and umpires. In addition, the purple wristbands worn by Joe Mauer and Michael Brantley were collected and autographed.
The entire set is being sent to Cleveland by the Twins, for donation and display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.