MINNEAPOLIS — Brian Dozier isn’t necessarily known as a power hitter, but the Twins second baseman flexed his muscles Thursday.
Dozier hit his sixth home run of the season, which now has him tied for fourth on the team this year. It was just a sampling of what Minnesota’s offense did Thursday as the Twins homered four times in their 8-4 win over the White Sox in the series finale.
For Dozier, it was his sixth homer of the season and his third in the last four days. He’s now batting .234 after his average dipped below the Mendoza line in late May.
“Everything feels good,” Dozier said. “It always helps a lot when you’ve got everybody hitting in the lineup, one through nine. Everything’s flowing really well right now. We’re not missing pitches over the plate and getting good pitches to hit. That’s the main focus.”
Oswaldo Arcia, Clete Thomas and Eduardo Escobar joined Dozier in the home run party as the Twins’ seventh, eighth and ninth hitters, respectively, all went deep in Thursday’s win. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marked the first time in Twins history that Minnesota’s 7-8-9 and leadoff hitters have homered in the same game.
A random stat, sure, but an interesting one nonetheless in what proved to be an offensive outburst for a Twins team that improved to 33-36 with a three-game sweep of Chicago. Minnesota exploded for 15 hits on the day, including the four that reached the seats.
Those four homers helped take some of the pressure off Minnesota starting pitcher Scott Diamond, who went 5 1/3 innings and gave up four runs (three earned). Diamond was backed by a handful of homers and earned his fifth win of the season as a result.
“I don’t really think we’re a big home run hitting team, so we’re used to manufacturing (runs),” Diamond said. “To have that kind of production out of the bottom of our lineup today with those big hits, home runs are always exciting. It gets the crowd into it. But at the same time, we did a great job of also manufacturing runs, too. Home runs are exciting, but as long as we’re putting them on the board, you’ve got to be happy.”
Arcia got the home run barrage started when he connected for a solo shot in the bottom of the second inning for an early 1-0 Twins lead. After Thomas reached on an infield single, Dozier sent a two-out pitch to the left field bleachers and gave Diamond and Minnesota a 3-0 cushion.
Thomas hit his first homer of the season with one out in the fourth inning as he took White Sox starter John Danks deep to right field. Three pitches later, Escobar connected on a changeup and hit it 405 feet to left field for his third blast of the year. It was just the second time this season that the Twins hit back-to-back homers.
Dozier has now spent the last two games as Minnesota’s leadoff hitter after an extended stretch near the bottom of the lineup. The move seemed to work for the Twins, as Dozier has homered his last two days in that top spot.
While Dozier’s defense at second base has been solid all year, his hitting has been a work in progress. Over the last five games, though, things have started to click as he’s gone 6-for-16 with three homers and seven RBI.
“He’s being aggressive,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Dozier. “He got beat a couple times where he ended up popping them up, but as I told him, ‘Just swing, son. We need you to swing the bat.’ He’s playing great defense, fantastic defense. We just need him to swing the bat, just get after it and be aggressive and we’ll take it from there.”
Home runs still aren’t a huge part of Minnesota’s game; the Twins have hit just 63 homers this year, 24th in all of baseball. But the long ball was key for Gardenhire’s club during the latter part of the recent home stand, during which the Twins went 6-3.
Including Thursday’s game, Minnesota homered nine times in its last five games and was 4-1 during that stretch.
“It was a good series to get a sweep there,” said Joe Mauer, who hit his seventh home run of the year in Tuesday’s win over Chicago. “Hopefully we can carry this momentum on the road.”