BALTIMORE - If taking away home runs is as valuable as hitting them, Eddie Rosario is on a historic spree.
Rosario on Saturday became just the third Twins player ever to smack two home runs in back-to-back games, but his day at the plate wasn’t as satisfying as the fun he had in the field. Rosario also reached over the wall to take away a home run from Chris Davis, and began a relay to throw out another Oriole at the plate, helping to deliver a 6-5 victory in the first game of a doubleheader.
Rosario, who blasted a pair of home runs in Thursday’s loss to Toronto at Target Field, kept up his hot hitting right away in Camden Yards — a ballpark where he’s rarely played well. In the second inning, the Twins’ home run leader reached a two-strike fastball from Orioles righthander Dan Straily, hitting it more than 400 feet deep into the stands in right-center.
Rosario’s second homer Saturday came with an exclamation point, too: Willians Astudillo followed it with one of his own, drilling a pitch over the left-field wall. It was Astudillo’s second home run of the season, and both have come back-to-back with a teammate.
In the fifth inning, Rosario helped end Straily’s day by clearing the wall with a first-pitch fastball, his eighth home run of the season, which ranks third in the AL.
The other Twins players to accomplish two home runs in back-to-back games were Don Mincher on July 20-21 1963 and Kirby Puckett on Aug 29-30 1987.
It’s quite a turnaround for Rosario, a player who started the 2019 season with 14 hitless at-bats. “I don’t think he got down on himself in any way when the hits weren’t falling,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “The guy has about as confident approach of any player that I’ve ever seen. He’s going to be fine, he knows he’s going to be fine no matter what. Regardless of what kind of start or finish or anything in between, he’s going to be OK.”
In between the homers, Rosario also stretched a routine single to right-center into a double, forcing center fielder Cedric Mullins into rushing a throw to second base that was wide of the base.
His biggest contribution, though, may have been in helping Jose Berrios hold on to the lead on a day when the righthander’s command was clearly a problem. Berrios hit the first batter he faced, walked three hitters on the day, and was continually falling behind in the count. Baltimore finally capitalized in the third inning when Trey Mancini doubled and Dwight Smith Jr. and Renato Nunez hit back-to-back home runs into the Orioles’ bullpen in center field.
Those blasts briefly gave Baltimore a 3-2 lead, and Rosario helped prevent it from becoming 4-2 with an inning-ending throw. Davis smacked a double off the left-field wall that Rosario ran past, but he recovered quickly and fired a throw to third baseman Marwin Gonzalez, whose relay to the plate caught Rio Ruiz just before he could cross the plate.
Davis’ next at-bat was Rosario’s finest moment, however. The slump-ridden Oriole, who last week ended a record 0-for-54 streak at the plate and entered the game batting just .109, hit a Berrios curveball deep to left field. But Rosario timed his leap and snagged the ball at the top of the wall, a critical play in what turned out to be a one-run game. The next batter, Pedro Severino, hit the Orioles’ third home run of the game, marking just the fifth time in Berrios’ career he has given up three home runs.
Baltimore added another run in the eighth inning off lefthander Taylor Rogers, with a Trey Mancini double scoring Davis. But Rogers struck out Smith to strand two runners on base, then pitched a perfect ninth to earn his second save.