Dozier in the middle of Twins' dramatic win
JUN 21, 2014 12:19a ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier's season has been filled with plenty of big moments for the Minnesota Twins. The second baseman is establishing himself as one of the most exciting all-around players in the American League and a possible all-star for the Midsummer Classic later at his home park.
It would be hard to find a bigger inning for him this year than Friday's ninth inning.
Dozier started a double play to end Chicago's rally in the top of ninth and singled home Eduardo Escobar with two outs in the bottom of the inning to win the game.
Dozier, who's attracted attention for his 15 home runs this year, was most pleased with the key defensive play.
"I'm more excited -- the walk-off hits, it is what it is -- but that's probably one of the best feelings I've had in a while, to be honest with you," Dozier said of the double play.
Chicago had rallied from down 2-0 against Minnesota closer Glen Perkins on hits by Paul Konerko and Adam Eaton. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire opted to walk Gordon Beckham, who had homered earlier, to load the bases for Conor Gillaspie, who is hitting .335 this year.
Set with a play to go home for the force-out unless the ball was hit hard enough for a double play, Dozier made the quick decision to try for the double play to end the inning. Gillaspie's bouncer wasn't the type of hit Dozier wanted. The play could have gone home, but Dozier spun and threw to shortstop Danny Santana, who turned the double play.
"That was the high chopper in between, the only ball I didn't want, to be honest," Dozier said. "Hats off to Danny; if he doesn't have an AK-47 attached to his body, then we probably don't turn the double play. Because he's got a cannon, he's pretty good."
Dozier let out a big yell after the play.
"He's into it out there," Gardenhire said. "I think that double play that he turned, we were talking about it. If it's hit soft, you've got to be able to come home and get the force out. The last one, that one made him have to take a step back so he went ahead and tried it the other way, which is exactly how you draw it up. And then he comes up with the big base hit too, he's into the game pretty good. He's going along well and he's a fun player to watch play baseball."
Worried about Belisario's sinker, Dozier sent a soft liner over the head of shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who just missed the ball while jumping.
"I thought I put a better swing than what it was," Dozier said. "But (Belisario) just ran it in, kind of jammed me a little bit but just enough to kind of die on behind his head. That's fine with me. I'll take 100 of them."
Escobar slid around the tag of catcher Adrian Nieto for the winning run. Nieto appeared to block the plate and umpires went to a review but ruled Escobar was safe after he got his right hand in ahead of the tag.
Gardenhire was discussing the play with umpires before the review.
"Well, blocking the plate without the ball," Gardenhire said of what he was asking about. "I know you can make an adjustment to the ball coming in, but you're supposed to be in fair territory with your foot. I would have had an issue if they would have called it. I would have probably been up in the press box with you."
Instead, the Twins have taken the first two games of the series and Dozier was right in the middle of the action, as he's been all season.
"The season's going fine with me," Dozier said. "I think everybody's kind of happy where we are right now. We lost a couple and kind of ran into a buzzsaw this week with some good arms. But everything seems to be going good. I think we're going to make hay before the all-star game, to be honest with you. We're playing some decent teams, but I think we match up pretty good with a lot of them."
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