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Rosario's monster day lifts Twins past Cleveland

Minnesota Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario (20) celebrates his walk off home run in the ninth inning against Cleveland Indians on Sunday, June 3, at Target Field. Brad Rempel / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- An expectant hush fell over Target Field as Cody Allen prepared to throw his 2-1 pitch to Eddie Rosario in the ninth inning Sunday, June 3. For a few tense moments, it was quiet enough to hear a division race tighten.

And then Allen reared back and threw his 94-mph fastball up in the zone, right where Rosario likes it. The Twins’ left fielder connected on his third home run of the day, this one a two-run moonshot over the high scoreboard in right field to complete a 7-5 walk-off victory over the Cleveland Indians.

With that, the party was on as the jubilant home crowd of 26,096 chanted “ED-DIE! ED-DIE!” in the hero’s honor.

“It was Rosie’s day,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I’ve seen a lot of good days in the big leagues, but I don’t know if I’ve seen one that was more dramatic than that.”

With parents Eddie and Maria and two brothers Jackie and Gaby in town to join his wife and three children, Rosario couldn’t have picked a better time for the second three-homer day of his career. The first came nearly one year ago (June 13), launching a career turnaround that has barely stopped to take a breath.

“Today, everything happened,” said Rosario, 26. “I know it’s special for me, but for my family it’s more special right now. I feel proud for me. I feel good. I’m happy when I see my family.”

Taking three of four from the first-place Indians, the Twins climbed back within 3 1/2 games of the division lead in the American League Central. Had they been able to complete Thursday’s stirring comeback from an 8-0 hole, the Twins might have had their first four-game sweep of the Indians in 37 years.

Including a two-game split in April in Rosario’s native Puerto Rico, the Twins now lead the season series 4-2 against the two-time division champs, a team that rattled off nine straight wins at  Target Field last season.

“It’s a new year; everything is different,” Rosario said after a combined seven homers flew out on Sunday. “Now it’s 2018 -- 2017 is past. Everything changes.”

Not many regular-season series include a pair of team meetings, one on the field before batting practice on Thursday and another before the game on Friday, but the Twins were in danger of seeing their high hopes slip away after losing seven of eight.

“Now,” Rosario said, “Cleveland knows the Twins are here.”

After suffering eight walk-off defeats through their first 27 road games, including six by homer, the Twins enjoyed their third walk-off victory of the year and the first at home since April 12 against the Houston Astros. The other one came April 18 in San Juan against the Indians in 16 innings.

Twins relievers Ryan Pressly and Addison Reed gave back a pair of leads via homers. Edwin Encarnacion’s second blast of the day, a three-run homer off Pressly, wiped out a 3-1 Twins lead in the sixth, and Michael Brantley’s solo shot off Reed tied the game at 5 in the eighth.

It was the second homer off Pressly in his past three outings and the second in as many outings for Reed, who also saw Francisco Lindor take him deep for the game-winner on Thursday.

With 31 and 28 appearances, respectively, Pressly and Reed are on pace to finish the year with 91 and 82, which would be career highs for both. The Twins’ single-season leader is Mike Marshall with 90 in 1979.

Perfect through four innings with six strikeouts, Kyle Gibson gave up a leadoff homer to Encarnacion on a two-strike changeup in the fifth. Francisco Lindor’s 12-pitch walk led to Gibson’s removal at 99 pitches.

Brian Dozier, who opened the ninth with a nine-pitch walk, went deep at home for the first time this season. His  leadoff blast to left chased Mike Clevinger in the seventh, and Rosario followed with his second homer, off curveballing lefty Tyler Olson, to reclaim the lead.

Rosario had gone more than three weeks without a homer before connecting on a Trevor Bauer cutter Saturday and again off a Clevinger sinker in Sunday’s first inning. His family, Rosario noted, arrived from Orlando only late Friday.

Now hitting .342 in 202 career at-bats against the Indians -- with 13 homers, 33 runs and 31 runs batted in -- Rosario is slugging an insane .604 against the division leaders. His next-highest homer total is seven against the  Chicago White Sox.

“I remember everything,” Rosario said. “It’s easier if you know sometimes what they’re going to throw you.”

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