Hockey has the Gordie Howe Hat Trick — a goal, an assist and a fight.
The Twins offer, for your consideration, the Eddie Rosario Cycle, an ever-evolving and creatively produced set of actions intended to confuse baseball fans of all ages.
On Sunday, Rosario not only ran through a stop sign given by the Twins third-base coach, Tony Diaz — he almost ran over Diaz himself, who needed to execute a Dalvin Cook deke to survive. Rosario was thrown out easily at home, short-circuiting a rally that could have won a game that the Twins lost to Detroit 10-8.
Rosario watched a ball bounce off the ground and into the limestone wall to the left of the left-field foul pole, then disregarded the ball when it bounded back into the field, not realizing that the Target Field ground rules consider that ball in play.
He leaped for a home run and might have touched it before it bounced off the top of the fence.
He also threw to the wrong base at least once.
Somehow, Rosario went 2-for-4 with a home run and a walk and had a bad game.
Maybe he’s trying too hard because he got a look at Brent Rooker’s swing.
If you’re worried about a loss that ended the Twins’ five-game winning streak and could cost them, don’t.
While the division title remains in play, and might be decided next week during a seven-game stretch against Cleveland and the White Sox, the playoff race is over.
The Twins can’t admit it, can’t act on it, can’t let on that they know, but if this were an election the networks would be calling it.
Unless something strange — or something typical of 2020 — happens, the Twins will be participating in the Pandemic Playoffs. They will enter the Pandemic Playoff Beach Bubble in Southern California. And they will face the realities of the most Minnesotan of all sports projections.
According to Baseball-Reference, otherwise known as the only reason to think of the internet as a good thing, the Twins on Sunday morning had a 99.8% chance of making the Pandemic Playoffs. And they had a 4.8% chance of winning the World Series.
That’s because they could finish third in the AL Central and still likely make the playoffs, barring some kind of collapse. And they would suffer only in seeding, because there will be no true home-field advantage during these playoffs.
The questions raised Sunday, in regards to the playoffs:
• Was the Twins bullpen implosion indicative of anything other than overfamiliarity with Detroit or overwork during a packed schedule?
• Can the Twins trust Rosario right now?
He’s always been a risk-reward, plus-minus kind of player, and he deserves credit for helping the 2019 team win 101 games and set the home-run record.
He also got moved from left field in Yankee Stadium in the playoffs last year because his fielding had lapsed, his on-base percentage is hovering around .300 for the second year in a row and his OPS is going to go down for a fourth consecutive season.
Add in the kind of unforced errors he made Sunday, and the fact he is approaching arbitration, and it’s not hard to see the Twins’ grand plan.
Rooker is an impressive young hitter. He is one of four top hitting prospects who could play left field at Target Field, along with Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach.
I asked Twins manager Rocco Baldelli about Rosario almost flattening Diaz. Baldelli said Rosario said he “didn’t see Tony in time. That’s something that does happen.”
But only to certain players.
“Eddie usually does err on the side of aggressiveness,” Baldelli said.
That combination of aggressiveness and lapsed judgment — the Twins left fielder should know the left-field ground rules — could cost the Twins big in a short series.
And, despite Sunday’s loss, the Twins are headed for at least one short series in October, in Southern California, as a season strange as Rosario’s decision-making will feature baseball’s first bubbles.