KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A couple of extras from the Twins’ first win since last Tuesday:
On Sunday, Twins third base coach Gene Glynn hopped like a rabbit and frantically waved his right arm like a propeller, giving Eddie Rosario an over-the-top enthusiastic green light to try to score. On Monday, Glynn was trying to be subtle and inconspicuous as he sent the same message to Brian Dozier.
Both approaches worked perfectly. Rosario tore around the bases and slid under a tag in Seattle, and Dozier shocked the Royals’ defense by scoring from first on a broke-bat line drive just beyond second base, the third run driven in on Rosario’s bases-loaded double.
“A lot of things factored into that kind of play. First of all, I’m not being held on” because the bases were loaded, Dozier recounted after the Twins’ 8-5 victory. “Two outs, so you’re going to take a chance, especially with the shift on. The broken bat, that means it’s not hit hard at [an outfielder], and it’s in between the right fielder and center fielder, so you know there’s going to be a play evolving.”
That play came down to this: Since it took an unusual amount of time for the defense to reach his shallow line drive, Rosario hustled around first base and headed to second. The Royals instinctively scrambled to try to throw him out, but Rosario got there in time. Meanwhile, two runs scored ahead of Dozier, and Glynn saw an opportunity for a third.
“Gene, we’ve done it in the past, three or four times, probably. He has a lot of savvy over there,” Dozier said. “It’s my job to go as hard as I can, and it’s kind of a last-minute read on his part. Not even before third base, but kind of after third base; that’s why you see him all the way down the line.”
While the Royals were focused on Rosario, Glynn was making small hand gestures to Dozier, giving him the green light without calling attention to it. “As defenders, we’re taught to glance at the third base coach to see if he’s waving.”
With no obvious signal, though, the focus remained on the play at second, where shortstop Alcides Escobar tagged Rosario too late, then stood up and paused. Dozier was halfway down the third-base line before he was noticed, and the throw from Escobar arrived at home plate after Dozier had slid across.
“It’s one of those plays where you’re looking to score back-door with two outs. … That one set up perfectly,” Molitor said. “It was going to be a close play at second, they tried to make a tag, and by then, it’s too late to get the last runner.”
Fernando Rodney had not pitched since the previous Monday, so Molitor knew his closer was fresh. Still, “I’d prefer not using him in that situation very often,” the manager said.
The situation was a two-on, two-out jam in the eighth inning, with Whit Merrifield coming to the plate as the tying run. Molitor summoned Rodney to get four outs, something the 41-year-old had not been asked to do this season.
“All of a sudden, we’ve got the tying run coming to the plate, who’s a really good hitter, period, but off lefties in particular,” Molitor said. “So I felt I had to bring in Fernando.”
Merrifield actually singled, but Rodney retired Mike Moustakas on a called third strike. Then he allowed a Jorge Soler home run in the ninth, but still earned his ninth consecutive save, and 11th overall.
“Sometimes it’s hard [to come in early], because when you sit down [between innings], all your energy goes out,” Rodney said. “But I prepared myself tonight to come back and be ready.”