MLB Postseason: 5 key moments from Wednesday’s playoff action

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Sean Murphy #12 and Jake Diekman #35 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates after they defeated the Chicago White Sox 5-3 in Game Two of the American League Wild Card Round at RingCentral Coliseum on September 30, 2020 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Sean Murphy #12 and Jake Diekman #35 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates after they defeated the Chicago White Sox 5-3 in Game Two of the American League Wild Card Round at RingCentral Coliseum on September 30, 2020 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

2020 MLB Postseason: Eddie Rosario, the man who wasn’t there.

Sometimes the key figure isn’t even involved in the play. Yes, Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario, we’re talking about you.

Rosario was the cleanup hitting left fielder in Rocco Baldelli’s starting lineup Wednesday when the Twins, trailing Houston one game to none, faced the Astros in a definitional ‘must-win’ game.

And few players are as important to the Twins offense as Rosario, whose 54 hits, 13 home runs, and 42 RBIs were all at or near the top of the team’s offensive stats.

In the eighth inning, the Twins reached a moment where the cleanup hitter’s spot came up representing the potential tying run in a 3-1 game. With one out, Nelson Cruz walked and Byron Buxton was summoned as a pinch-runner for him.

But Rosario wasn’t in the batter’s box to make something happen. He had been ejected by plate umpire Manny Gonzalez two innings earlier for beefing about Gonzalez’ strike calls after Rosario whiffed.

The record shows that the second strike call on Rosario was marginal and possibly high. Had Gonzalez seen it that way, Rosario would have walked.

But Gonzalez didn’t see it that way, and after Rosario tipped a third strike into Martin Maldonado’s mitt he gave Gonzalez the magic word.

That moment of indiscretion left Jake Cave, a .221 hitting reserve, to cope with that critical situation two innings later. Cave fanned and Buxton ended the inning by being picked off first.