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Rosario's clutch 3-run HR ends A's streak

Twins outfielder confident in key situations: 'I love the moment'
@dohyoungpark
July 19, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eddie Rosario lives for the big moment. He knows it. His manager knows it. All of his teammates and coaches know it. When Rosario stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter with two on in the seventh inning, starter Kyle Gibson and three other Twins players all predicted

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eddie Rosario lives for the big moment. He knows it. His manager knows it. All of his teammates and coaches know it.

When Rosario stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter with two on in the seventh inning, starter Kyle Gibson and three other Twins players all predicted a homer. Just about everybody was at the top step of the dugout.

“You can feel those moments, and that was going to be the inning we were going to do it,” Gibson said.

So it surprised nobody when Rosario took a mighty hack at A’s reliever Yusmeiro Petit’s first pitch and deposited it a Statcast-projected 414 feet away in the right-field stands to a deafening roar at Target Field. The blast gave the Twins the lead and, more importantly, a much-needed jolt of energy to fuel a 6-3 comeback win over Oakland on Thursday.

Box score

“I love the moment.” Rosario said. “I think the moment pushes me to hit these home runs."

“You just feel those moments,” said Gibson, who allowed three runs over seven innings while striking out seven to get the win. “Rosie is just that type of player.”

“I think he fully expected to hit a home run, because that's what he does,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It is the kind of moment that does singlehandedly turn a game around and propel us to the win."

A’s starter Mike Fiers continued a dominant run with six innings of one-run ball to begin the game, but he allowed a one-out double to Luis Arraez in the seventh inning before Miguel Sano worked his second walk of the game to set up the pinch-hit opportunity for Rosario, who returned from a 13-game stint on the injured list on Tuesday.

The aggressive Rosario took his hack on a 90 mph fastball down the middle of the plate from Petit, took several steps backwards out of the batter’s box as he admired the blast and yelled into the Twins’ dugout as he ran by on his trot around the bases.

"I was just looking to give motivation to my teammates, trying to pump my teammates,” Rosario said. “We weren't hitting well this game. We were behind. I was just trying to keep everybody upbeat and together through the difficult times of the game. That's what I was yelling at them."

He received a curtain call from 28,432 on hand and chants of his name as he ran to his left-field position for the following half-inning.

“I think the energy everywhere in the building changed after that,” Baldelli said.

Rosario’s home run marked the first pinch-hit homer of the season for the Twins and snapped a streak of 10 consecutive long balls for the club with nobody on base.

It also opened the floodgates, as Mitch Garver and C.J. Cron both followed with solo home runs off Lou Trivino in the eighth inning as the Twins’ offense roared to life against the Oakland bullpen.

“It can kind of re-boost you a little bit, and we were doing that a lot early on in the year,” Gibson said. “It seemed like every situation we needed a hit, we were getting one. Recently, the last three or four weeks, it really hadn’t been that way. To get that hit, it really had kind of the vintage feel of early on in the season, where we’re not going to lose this game.”

The Twins had never really seemed to click in a sloppy two-game sweep at the hands of the Mets to open their current homestand, a messy series that included three errors, two passed balls and nine unearned runs as a result. Rosario himself had contributed to that with a missed catch in left field that led to six unearned runs on Wednesday.

He found his redemption rather quickly, and it came when his team sorely needed it after another messy start to the game that saw two errors in the first two innings and rally after rally killed by two double plays, a pickoff at second base and a runner being doubled off third on a line drive.

Though Rosario had been the one to christen the “Bomba Squad” nickname for the lineup, he hadn’t hit a long ball in nearly a month due to the All-Star break and his injury. The Twins were 6-7 while Rosario was sidelined with a sprained left ankle.

They certainly missed his big bat -- but they also missed that swagger and energy that lifted the Twins in their time of need on Thursday night.

“I think it’s just Eddie being Eddie,” Gibson said. “He finds a way to make good plays, and yeah, he takes risks sometimes on the bases and takes big swings every now and then, but it pays off way more than it doesn’t. To see him come up in that big of situation and have fun like that, it was a big lift for our team.”

“I'm a gamer,” Rosario said. "I play the game hard. I just wanted to be back to be able to do these types of things."

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.