BALTIMORE – Rocco Baldelli worried about the wear and tear Saturday’s doubleheader might inflict on his team. So the Twins saved energy by jogging around the bases all night.
Eddie Rosario slugged three home runs on the day, Mitch Garver, Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop bashed a pair, and two of their teammates went deep, too, as the well-rested Twins crushed 11 home runs and swept a doubleheader from the Orioles, 6-5 and 16-7, at a bandbox called Camden Yards.
Rosario connected twice in Game 1 and hit an encore home run in Game 2, allowing him to tie Harmon Killebrew’s and Brian Dozier’s franchise record of five home runs in a three-game stretch. With his two-homer game against the Blue Jays on Thursday, Rosario also joined Kirby Puckett and Don Mincher as the only Twins to have back-to-back two-homer games.
“I love that. [Puckett] is in the big names of Minnesota Twins,” Rosario said. “Kirby Puckett is a legend for the Twins. I want to be there, too.”
He’s off to a good start. Rosario’s nine home runs are also two more than any Twins player has hit in a season’s first 18 games.
“I don’t know how you can get much hotter,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of the left fielder, who also singled and doubled during the Twins’ first sweep of a road doubleheader since 2013. But Rosario’s torrid pace is heating up his teammates, too: With 32 homers already this year, they are on pace to hit 288 and obliterate the franchise home run record of 225, set in 1963.
That was the same year — Aug. 29, 1963, to be exact — that the Twins last hit eight homers in a game, as they did in Game 2. Garver, Cruz and Schoop all connected twice (although Schoop’s second one came with first baseman Chris Davis on the mound), Rosario added one more, and C.J. Cron lined a screamer into the left-field seats. Willians Astudillo also connected in the first game, going back-to-back with Rosario.
It wasn’t just the Twins playing Home Run Derby, though. Baltimore crushed three home runs in the first game — and had a fourth robbed by Rosario’s leaping catch — and three more in the second, meaning the teams combined to deposit 17 balls over Camden Yards’ fences.
“This place reminds me of Coors Field,” said Twins third base coach Tony Diaz, a former Rockies player who spent most of the evening high-fiving Twins hitters as they jogged past. “The way the ball flies out of here … whew.”
Jose Berrios and Martin Perez each allowed four runs over six innings, contributions that felt much stronger than the numbers say, given the shooting-gallery feel of the day. Probably most important for a team with several games to make up after seven days off already, it prevented the bullpen from being overtaxed; only four relievers were called upon, with Taylor Rogers picking up a two-inning save in Game 1.
“A doubleheader for a grown man is a little different than a doubleheader for a Little League kid who runs out there and feels great after playing two games,” Baldelli said. “Over the course of a long season, those days can beat you up.”
Rosario did his best to beat up the Orioles practically by himself. In Game 1, a makeup of Friday night’s rainout, he homered twice, stretched a single into a double, helped throw a runner out at the plate and in the sixth inning timed his leap and snagged a potential Davis home run at the top of the wall — a critical play in what turned out to be a one-run game.
“He’s really thinking about his defense a lot,” Baldelli said. “He’s taking pride in it. You can see what kind of athlete he is, the way that he goes after balls.”
His offense isn’t bad, either.