MINNEAPOLIS -- Frustration with the strike zone boiled over for both the Twins and Astros during Game 2 of their American League Wild Card Series on Wednesday. Minnesota left fielder Eddie Rosario paid the price with a sixth-inning ejection before his team was eliminated from the playoffs in a 3-1
MINNEAPOLIS -- Frustration with the strike zone boiled over for both the Twins and Astros during Game 2 of their American League Wild Card Series on Wednesday. Minnesota left fielder Eddie Rosario paid the price with a sixth-inning ejection before his team was eliminated from the playoffs in a 3-1 loss at Target Field.
Leading off the sixth with the game tied, 1-1, Rosario took three of the first four pitches from Houston right-hander Cristian Javier and worked a 3-1 count. He also took the next pitch, which appeared to be high out of the zone for ball four. Instead, home-plate umpire Manny Gonzalez called it strike two, and Rosario struck out on a foul tip two pitches later.
Following that final pitch, Rosario voiced his displeasure to Gonzalez while walking back to the Twins' dugout and was immediately ejected. He threw his helmet to the ground in disgust, and manager Rocco Baldelli emerged from the dugout to act as a mediator.
"I believe Manny asked Rosie, after the first pitch they disagreed on, or the first encounter they had in that at-bat, Manny said he gave him the opportunity to say his piece and then get back in the box," Baldelli said. "And that he wasn’t going to allow players to just do that the entire at-bat, continuously. I don’t know exactly what was said."
Rosario wasn't the only one who had an issue with Gonzalez's strike zone. Astros center fielder George Springer was called out on strikes in the fourth inning despite José Berríos' 2-2 fastball appearing to miss outside. He yelled at Gonzalez about the call several times, but he was allowed to remain in the game. Twins outfielder Max Kepler also showed his displeasure with a called third strike in the bottom of the fifth inning, but stayed in the game.
"I don’t think the umpires were a factor in this series at all," Baldelli said. "I think the teams went out there and played. And in this series, we were outplayed. The Astros outplayed us. That’s why we lost -- not because of any calls or umpires’ decisions."
Rosario's ejection not only deprived the Twins of one of their leading home-run hitters in an elimination game -- he tied for second on the team with 13 long balls in the regular season -- but also thinned Minnesota's already precarious outfield depth.
With Byron Buxton not in the starting lineup due to an unspecified health issue, Jake Cave came off the bench as the Twins' lone remaining outfielder to take Rosario's place in left. No. 2 prospect Alex Kirilloff had already started the game in right field, becoming the first player to start a postseason game in his Major League debut, due to Buxton's unavailability.
"Manny Gonzalez is very professional in the way he generally handles things," Baldelli said. "I’ve known him a long time. I wish Rosie maybe was given some extra leeway. These are important games, and being able to have all of your players and your staff members in these games [is] important."
Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.