The Twins have long been reluctant to trade away their top prospects for veteran help. Thursday night, one day before another trade deadline, they got another reminder of why.
Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks, two outfielders drafted and developed by the Twins, delivered a home run and three hits apiece to help the team end a four-game losing streak with a 9-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Rosario fell a single short of becoming the first Twins player since Michael Cuddyer in 2009 to hit for the cycle after collecting a home run, double and triple in his first three at-bats. Rosario flied out in the sixth inning, then laced a hard line drive that appeared headed to left field in the eighth. But as the ball flew past, Seattle shortstop Brad Miller made a leaping snag, disappointing the Twins, their rookie outfielder and the announced crowd of 30,534 at Target Field.
“I see it out there, [I thought], ‘I got it!’ But he made good play,” Rosario said. He pulled off his helmet, partly in tribute to Miller’s catch — “but I was angry,” too, he said.
“It wasn’t meant to be,” said manager Paul Molitor, who had a cycle of his own in the Metrodome with the Brewers in 1991. “I hope he gets a lot more chances. Cycles are a little bit lucky. But it was still a really good night for him.”
For Hicks, too. He homered in the second inning to add another run, and then singled in the fourth, continuing the hottest stretch of his three-year big-league career. Hicks went two years and three weeks between three-hit games — from June 8, 2013, to Wednesday — then collected three-hit games in back-to-back games. Hicks, batting .565 this homestand (13-for-23), also now has five consecutive multi-hit games, joining Danny Santana as the only Twins since 2010 to have such a streak.
“It’s the most comfortable I’ve seen him, day in and day out, lefthanded and righthanded. He’s just putting together good at-bats,” Molitor said.
Brian Dozier also homered as the Twins scored in four of the first five innings — including a five-run first, their biggest first inning of the season.
“It was a night for offense. There was no rope-a-dope going on,” Molitor said. “Dozier made a statement to answer right away.”
The Twins, hoping to pull off a deadline-day trade to boost their postseason chances according to General Manager Terry Ryan, increased their lead for the final wild-card berth to two games.
Seattle took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Seth Smith blasted a Phil Hughes fastball into the right-field seats. But the Twins responded quickly, with Dozier smashing the second pitch he saw, a high fastball from lefthander J.A. Happ, into the planters in left field. It was Dozier’s sixth leadoff home run of the season, and 13th of his career, moving him into third place all-time in Twins’ leadoff homers. Only Jacque Jones (20) and Chuck Knoblauch (14) have more.
That was only the start. Hicks followed with a single, and Miguel Sano reached base on Happ’s throwing error. Torii Hunter then lined a tying single, and Rosario rocketed his first home run in more than a month into the seats in right field.
Rosario is making history, too. The rookie doubled in the third inning, then scored on a Jorge Polanco single, and tripled in the fifth inning, joining Delmon Young (2008), Dan Gladden (1991) and Rod Carew (1997) as the only Twins ever to triple in three consecutive games.