MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Twins sure consider Brian Dozier an All-Star, regardless of whether he wins the fan vote for the final spot on the AL team.
He’s done plenty to make his case.
Dozier and Joe Mauer hit back-to-back home runs with two outs in the sixth inning Wednesday, propelling the Twins past the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 to complete a three-game sweep.
Article continues below ...
With 47 extra-base hits, Dozier leads the league. With 64 runs, he moved into a tie for most in the majors.
”It’s exciting to watch. He’s a good player, and he’s been doing it for years now,” said Twins starter Tommy Milone (5-1), who stayed unbeaten in seven starts since being brought back from Triple-A Rochester at the beginning of June.
Dozier had two hits and two steals, strengthening his credentials for the weeklong contest to fill the last spot on the roster.
”I’ll be glad when the voting’s over. I wish the voting was over before we got here,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
The marketing campaign the Twins launched for their second baseman has been legitimized, with ”(hash)VoteDozier” painted behind the plate, a bulldozer parked on the plaza outside and an endorsement video from fellow Southern Mississippi alum Brett Favre that was shown on the scoreboard during the game.
”I hope people are paying attention,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said, adding: ”You just couldn’t ask for more for a first-half performance. I hope he gets rewarded.”
Manny Machado and Chris Davis hit consecutive homers off Casey Fien in the eighth for the Orioles, but Glen Perkins got his 28th save in 28 attempts with a perfect ninth and set a record for the longest streak in club history.
Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez pitched five scoreless innings but he needed a season-high 110 pitches to finish them. Bud Norris (2-9), who was bumped from the rotation last week, took over in the decisive sixth.
After Eric Fryer walked with one out, Dozier went deep on a high fastball from Norris for the team-leading 18th time this year to put the Twins in front. Dozier knew the ball was gone as soon it left the bat, turning toward the Minnesota dugout to yell in celebration at his teammates as he began his run around the bases.
”He’s not missing any mistakes right now,” Norris said.
The Twins improved to 28-15 at home and 12-4 against the AL East, with another victorious mix of confidence and optimism.
”When you’ve got that mentality as an offensive group, it can go a long ways,” Dozier said.
The Twins went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position against Jimenez, who gave up seven hits and three walks while striking out five. Eddie Rosario ended innings in all three of his at-bats against the right-hander, striking out with the bases loaded, popping up with men at second and third and grounding out with runners at the corners.
”Everyone was a little frustrated we didn’t take advantage, but they also are smart enough to watch the pitch count going up on the other side,” Molitor said.
Baltimore relievers have the best bullpen ERA in the major leagues during the last 2 1/2 months, but the bullpen was a bust in this game. Fryer, making his season debut after a recent promotion from Rochester, hit a two-run double in the seventh against Chaz Roe.
Jimenez has allowed one run in 20 innings over his last three starts for the Orioles, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
The lone left-hander in Minnesota’s rotation, Milone scattered five hits and walked two while striking out five in seven innings and shrinking his ERA to 2.84. The only run he allowed was on a double-play groundball, after a triple by Steve Pearce to start the fourth. Dozier dubbed the smooth-delivering, soft-throwing Milone a ”mini Tom Glavine.”
Orioles prospect Christian Walker was recalled before the game from Triple-A Norfolk to be the DH and sent back down afterward. He filled the roster spot of RHP Kevin Gausman, who went to Norfolk for one start to keep the All-Star break from throwing him off schedule.
Twins rookie Miguel Sano played 3B for the first time this season, turning in a flawless performance in the field to go with two walks and a single. Sano has at least one hit in all seven games since his promotion from Double-A Chattanooga and has been retired only four times in the last four games.
In the opener of a three-game series, Chris Tillman is scheduled to start for the Orioles Friday, opposite Tanner Roark of the visiting Washington Nationals.
The Twins start a four-game series Thursday against Detroit, with Mike Pelfrey taking the mound against Tigers All-Star David Price.