Is there an emoji that conveys “Thanks for the fastball”? Eddie Rosario is checking his phone.
Rosario jumped on a fastball from Joe Jimenez, his Puerto Rican teammate and group-text buddy, and deposited it into the left-field seats Friday night, rallying the Twins to a 6-3 victory over Detroit and ending their four-game losing streak.
All that’s left is the cellphone victory lap.
“I’ve [texted] nothing yet,” Rosario said after his first homer of the season, a three-run shot, capped a six-run sixth inning that handed Tigers starter Justin Verlander his first career loss in Target Field. “But maybe later …”
Team Puerto Rico, you see, has stayed in touch since their run to the championship game of the World Baseball Classic, mostly through their mobile devices. “We have a WBC group chat, and it goes every day. It’s unbelievable how close we’ve gotten as a team,” said Hector Santiago, another Puerto Rican vet and the beneficiary of Rosario’s three-run blast. “It’s a good, fun chat, where we keep in touch with friends. [Jimenez] was excited. He got called up [Thursday].”
Rosario beat Jimenez by attacking the first pitch. His teammates beat Verlander by doing just the opposite. The Twins drew six walks against the Tigers’ ace, a total he hadn’t allowed in more than a decade, and eventually cashed them in with a big inning.
“We showed pretty good discipline throughout the night, getting his pitch count up despite the zeros,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We made him work … just waiting him out until we got opportunities.”
Their moment arrived in the sixth inning, when Verlander, 12-1 in his past 13 decisions against the Twins and 6-0 at Target Field, walked Max Kepler, Miguel Sano and Joe Mauer with nobody out. Then Robbie Grossman — ironically, well-known for taking pitches — decided to swing at the first pitch he saw, producing a perfectly placed ground ball that turned into a two-run single.
“I knew that he was going to try to get the first pitch over. From past experience, taking that pitch doesn’t really do much for you,” Grossman explained. “So I tried to put a good swing on it. It was a pretty good pitch, but luckily I found a hole.”
That ended Verlander’s night after 107 pitches, and the Twins didn’t let up. Within three batters, the Twins had taken over the game and ended their four-game losing streak. Jorge Polanco greeted the hard-throwing Jimenez with a looper that carried just over shortstop Andrew Romine’s head, a single that scored Mauer with the tying run.
And Jimenez’s next pitch was the biggest of the night. Or maybe the fattest. Eddie Rosario bashed it into the upper deck in left field, a 400-foot blast that turned Santiago’s latest hard-luck start into a crowd-pleasing victory.
It also produced, let’s assume, some interesting text messages on Jimenez’s phone.
“You’ve got a guy who loves fastballs. But he’ll learn. We’ll say thank you to [Jimenez] tonight in our group chat,” Santiago said after collecting the victory after allowing three runs over 6⅓ innings. “He’s got to back it up. He texted us yesterday, said, ‘I’m coming to the big leagues. But he’s got to wear it tonight.’ ”