Late-inning balk betrays Brewers in 5-4 loss
MINNEAPOLIS -- Eddie Rosario danced, Oliver Drake flinched, and the Minnesota Twins were on their way to another comeback victory.
Rosario doubled home the tying run in the seventh inning, and his aggressive base running caused Drake to balk home the winning run as the Twins defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 on Monday night.
Rosario's double drove in Eduardo Escobar from first base with nobody out. Two batters later, Rosario was at third with two out when the Brewers employed a dramatic shift on left-handed hitting Jason Castro. Third baseman Travis Shaw moved into short right field, and shortstop Orlando Arcia played up the middle.
With no fielder within 80 feet of third base, Rosario took advantage. He danced halfway down the baseline, causing Drake (3-4) to step off the rubber and look the runner back.
When Drake stepped back on the rubber, Rosario made another break for home. This time Drake flinched and home plate umpire Bill Welke called a balk, sending Rosario home.
"I was trying to have fun but at the same time play hard," Rosario said via team interpreter Carlos Font. "If you're going to leave me that much room to run, I'm going to take it."
Although Brewers manager Craig Counsell argued the call, Drake seemed resigned to the outcome.
"He was jumping around the play before. Right there, it's huge if I can just make one pitch after that and get that guy out at the plate, then it's a tie game and it's a completely different story," Drake said.
After the game, Counsell didn't second-guess the decision to stick with the shift and leave room for Rosario to distract Drake.
"We've done it before. We shift quite a bit. We've played in that spot," Counsell said. "The runner's going to play around there. He's not going anywhere."
Buddy Boshers (1-0) retired one batter in the seventh to earn the victory in relief of starter Ervin Santana. Matt Belisle pitched the ninth to earn his second save in as many days for the Twins, who traded All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler to the Washington Nationals on July 31.
The Twins rallied from a 5-0 first-inning deficit to beat the Rangers on Sunday, and they put themselves in a 4-1 hole on Monday in the top of the fourth.
Keon Broxton homered, doubled and drove in two runs for the Brewers, who began the day a half-game behind the Chicago Cubs for first place in the NL Central.
Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco, whose two-out error in the third led to two unearned runs, had a career-high four hits, including a two-run double in the fourth that got the Twins within 4-3.
Twins center fielder Byron Buxton came within inches of a spectacular diving catch in the first inning, but the effort paid off anyway. Buxton sprinted from the alley in left-center to the warning track in right-center tracking Ryan Braun's drive.
The ball glanced off the tip of Buxton's glove as he laid out. But he played the carom off the wall and hit cutoff man Brian Dozier, whose relay was in time to retire Braun at third.
"It was on the verge of being an all-timer for me," Molitor said. "The way the ball was scalded by Braun, I didn't think he had a shot to get close. And somehow he got his glove on it. I know he was kicking himself for not securing it, but . the good part was he stayed with it and we got a heck of a relay to cut him down at third."
TURNING IT AROUND
Polanco was Minnesota's main shortstop for most of the first half of the season. But after hitting .250 through late June, the bottom fell out. Polanco went 4 for 51 in July and spent as much time on the bench as he did in the lineup. He's since responded with hits in his past five games including his outburst on Monday.
"I thought it was an opportunity to let him watch and slow the game down and think about some off the things that have gotten him here in the first place," said Molitor, who noted that Polanco was looking more like his old self again. "For awhile you could tell he was just searching for an identity up here as a major league player."
Brewers: After leaving the game Sunday with a bruised right wrist from being hit by a pitch, RF Domingo Santana felt good enough to return to the lineup.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano was held out again with a sore left hand from being hit by pitches. An MRI exam showed no damage. "You get hit multiple times in the same area in your hand, it has a chance to linger a little bit," Molitor said.
Brewers: RHP Matt Garza (5-5, 3.68) takes the mound in the second game of a four-game series in Minnesota. The Twins' first-round pick in the 2005 MLB draft is 2-2 in five career starts against his former team. Garza pitched 5 2/3 innings and earned the win in a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals on Aug. 3.
Twins: LHP Adalberto Mejia (4-5, 4.30) has battled high pitch counts as a rookie, and it's cost him a chance to pitch deeper into games. He was pulled after 90-plus pitches in each of his last three starts despite not pitching into the sixth inning in any of them.