CLEVELAND – Eddie Rosario noticed the banners all over Progressive Field. The All-Star Game will be played here on July 9, and a hitter who entered Thursday with the second-most home runs and RBI in the AL figures to be on everybody’s invitation list.
“I’m hoping,” Rosario said warily. “We’ll see.”
That’s not a particularly confident endorsement, especially from one of the most brashly confident players on the Twins. But there’s a reason for that, Rosario said.
“I said last year that I thought so,” Rosario said, but he was relegated to the Final Five vote for the final roster spot, where he finished fourth. “This year, I don’t want to say something. We’ll see.”
It’s superstition, in other words. But Jose Berrios, the Twins’ lone representative last year, has no problem with campaigning for his fellow Puerto Rican — or himself. “For sure, I want to come [to the All-Star Game] again. My family and I want to come here. It’s fun,” Berrios said. And his teammates? “Eddie has [had] a great year. He should be in it. Hopefully a lot of [Twins] can be there like I was.”
All-Star rosters will be announced on June 30, so plenty can still change. But the Twins figure to have one of their largest contingents of All-Stars ever. Perhaps not as many as the seven Twins who took part at Metropolitan Stadium in 1965, but more than one.
Jake Odorizzi, for instance, leads the AL with a 1.96 ERA and has an 8-2 record. Jorge Polanco entered Thursday second in batting average (.339), fifth in on-base percentage (.404), sixth in slugging (.590) and fifth in OPS (.994). Mitch Garver has more home runs than any catcher but New York’s Gary Sanchez. Jonathan Schoop has more homers than any second baseman, Byron Buxton leads the AL in doubles and Taylor Rogers has been dominant in the bullpen.
“Just off the top of my head, I’d have to say that we have a number of guys that have had great years,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’ve had guys that have had All-Star-caliber years and would have a wonderful argument.”
Fine with still waiting
Ryne Harper waited eight years to get to the major leagues. So there would have been some irony attached if he had earned his first big-league victory with only four pitches.
It almost happened Wednesday, when he relieved Martin Perez with two outs in the fifth inning — one out shy of the starting pitcher qualifying for a victory. The Twins led 6-5 at the time, and, with the tying run on base, Harper quickly retired Jason Kipnis to end the inning.
Under MLB rule 9.17(b), the victory in this case goes to “the relief pitcher who, in the official scorer’s judgment was the most effective.” Indians scorer Bob Maver said during the rain delay that interrupted the game before the seventh inning that if the score didn’t change, he intended to award the victory to Harper, because he recorded a critical out.
“That would have been pretty cool,” Harper, the oldest rookie in the AL, said Thursday. “It’s something you can keep forever, that you can say you got a big-league win, so it would be awesome. But it’s not something you think about much.”
Good thing, because the score didn’t stay the same. Cleveland rallied to a 9-7 win, and Harper remains winless in his two-month-old career.
Not that he minds. Harper, drafted in 2011, is savoring his first year in the majors, recording a video of each new ballpark as the Twins travel around the league. A curveball specialist, he’s also enjoying how well he’s pitching, and gradually earning more chances to pitch in close games.
“I love getting out there for any opportunity, but it does seems like I’ve built some trust and it’s up to me to live up to that trust and make people happy,” said Harper, whose ERA stands at 1.82 in 24⅔ innings this year. “ I feel like my best is still in me. I feel like I’m getting better, but you can’t think about that when you’re on the mound.”