Twins: 'We're watching the scoreboard every day'

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Eddie Rosario loves big moments, and was the stage ever set for him Thursday night at Target Field against the Oakland Athletics.

It took all of one pitch for him to bring the energy to his home dugout, and for the 28,000-plus in attendance. With Luis Arraez and Miguel Sano on base, Rosario launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh that turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead. C.J. Cron and Mitch Garver added homers of their own and the Twins snapped a three-game skid with a 6-3 win.

More importantly, it kept the Twins four games ahead of the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central Division. The Indians had already finished off a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. What was once an 11-game division lead has gotten a little more uncomfortable, but the Twins remain in control.

“Obviously we’re watching. We’re watching the scoreboard every day, keeping track on other teams. But we have to focus on ourselves and the 25 guys that are in here right now,” Garver said before Friday night’s game. Doing our jobs and making sure we’re competing, coming in every day and preparing ourselves to play.”

It was a game full of big moments, and a game Twins manager Rocco Baldelli knew they had to win. The last thing the Twins wanted was a division lead trimmed to three games. They need a spark, and Rosario gave it to them with his late-inning heroics.

It was his 21st homer of the season, and Rosario wasn’t afraid to celebrate it. He watched it fly off the scoreboard in right center, went down the bases and yelled into the dugout before tossing his bat.

“We had a lot of guys pick us up, Rosie being probably the biggest with what he did coming into that game. I think the energy that it brings is undeniable,” Baldelli said before Friday’s game.

Whether that translates to more wins and a bigger division lead for the Twins is yet to be seen. Baldelli did his best to make sure there wouldn’t be any late-inning theatrics in his bullpen.

Taylor Rogers, the unquestioned leader in the Twins bullpen, came on for the six-out save. He allowed two hits in the eighth inning with one out, but struck out Khris Davis looking and got Jurickson Profar, who homered earlier in the game off Kyle Gibson, to fly out to right to end the game.

He's been virtually un-hittable this season with a 1.61 earned run average and 56 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings. He's also well aware of where the Indians are, and he's not wasting his time worrying about it.

“Cleveland is chasing us, so why are we looking at them? We’re in first place. All I’ve heard about the last couple days is our three-game losing streak, not that we’re in first place," Rogers said. "We just had to remind ourselves that we are in first place and that they’re chasing us.”

It was a much-needed win for the Twins, arguably their biggest yet. They needed to keep the Indians at bay and get some confidence back themselves.

That’s especially after getting swept at Target Field by a New York Mets squad that’s eight games under .500.

“I think it kind of rejuvenates you a little bit, gets you going. But our guys are prepared every day when they take the field. Our guys are confident, we go out there expecting to win and expecting to make all the plays that we need to to win, and that’s what you have to do,” Baldelli said. “You have to play with confidence regardless of what happened yesterday or the day before, but it was definitely a nice win.”