“We have seen [Rosario] play in really good stretches,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “Now we are just starting to see it more consistently. I hope it runs itself right into October, because he’s really swinging the bat well.”
• Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
The blast capped a nine-run opening frame for the Twins, which was the most runs they had scored in a single frame since Aug. 22, 2014 against Detroit. It was the third time the team had scored nine runs in the first inning in Twins history and first time since April 27, 1980.
Minnesota sent 12 batters to the plate, recording six hits against two different D-backs pitchers. T.J. McFarland, who made his first start since July 1, 2014, was lifted after recording just one out through the eight batters he faced.
“We’ve had a nice offensive run here as of late,” Molitor said. “A lot of guys’ numbers have been escalating. It’s across the board, for the most part. That usually bodes pretty well for what you are going to do as an offense, collectively.”
What made the first inning surge even more impressive was the fact Minnesota did so with an unlikely cast. The team’s usual suspects, Miguel Sano (on the 10-day DL) and Joe Mauer (rest) were on the bench for the outburst.
Meanwhile, Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Mitch Garver made up three of the top five batters in the lineup. Garver was making his first Major League start and batting fifth, while Buxton, who has 218 career starts, was batting third for just the fifth time in his career.
Regardless, the early explosion pushed the Twins to their fourth straight victory and 11th win over their previous 14 games. Minnesota remains in the thick of the American League Wild Card hunt following the recent surge.
Nabbing the AL Wild Card is a feat that seems much more achievable, as the Twins will play just one team — the Royals — with a winning record through Sept. 17.
“Nobody really picked us to do anything this year,” catcher Chris Gimenez said. “Ever since Spring Training, we have been so close-knit as a group that we feel like we are capable of doing something pretty special here. We are starting to see some of the signs of what’s to come.”
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
–Top Twitter To Follow: