Dozier's power sparks Twins in win
MAY 17, 2014 11:12p ET
His response was simple: "Never," Dozier said.
One day later, Dozier may have to rethink his stance on his own power capability. Dozier hit his 11th home run of the season Saturday, a three-run shot that gave the Twins the lead in their 4-3 victory over the Mariners. Following his power display Saturday, Dozier is now tied for third in the American League with 11 RBI. "The guy hit 18 last year. That's a pretty good number. More than some guys' careers," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who hit just four home runs in his five years as a player with the Mets. "Yeah, he's a power guy, but you've seen these leadoff guys. There's been plenty of them that can drive a baseball and do some damage. What we like about him, he can steal bases, he can do all those things, but he's our ignitor."
"The Ignitor" was the nickname of Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, who is now a coach on the Twins' staff -- and someone who has worked a lot with Dozier on his fielding and baserunning in spring training and into the regular season. Though Gardenhire wasn't necessarily comparing the two, the moniker was indeed high praise for the 27-year-old Dozier.
"That's pretty special being mentioned as a Paul Molitor nickname," Dozier said after Minnesota's win Saturday. "That's pretty cool. I'll take it."Dozier has continued to downplay the power he's displayed over the last year and a few months. He set a Twins record for most home runs by a second baseman in 2013 when he hit 18 homers. Now with another one Saturday, he has 11 so far in 2014 and is tied with the likes of Boston's David Ortiz and Toronto's Jose Bautista -- two guys who know a thing or two about hitting home runs.
Yet, despite his increase in homers, Dozier insists he cares more about winning and about getting on base than he does about hitting the ball over the fence. With two hits and a hit-by-pitch Saturday against the Mariners, Dozier raised his on-base percentage to .377 -- third-highest on the Twins.
"My job's to get on base, whether it's by hits or anything," Dozier said. "On-base (percentage) is my biggest stat."
Dozier did better than just getting on base with the Twins trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning. He came to the plate with two on and one out after Aaron Hicks and Eduardo Escobar singled off Mariners starter Roenis Elias. Dozier fouled off the first pitch from Elias, but jumped on the 0-1 offering and sent it an estimated 385 feet to left field to give Minnesota a 4-3 lead.
The homer he hit Friday against Seattle's Chris Young was up in the zone, nearly at Dozier's eye level. On Saturday, he had to dig out a curveball from Elias for his three-run blast.
"That guy stayed down in the zone most of the night. He's got good stuff," Dozier said of Elias. "I wouldn't say it was probably a good pitch to hit, but at the same time for me, when I was geared up and ready to hit, it was for me."
Dozier's three-run home run Saturday was just his second homer of the year with runners on base. The other came a week ago against Detroit star Max Scherzer, a three-run shot to left field. The other nine home runs he's hit this year were solo shots.
That's no fault of Dozier's, though. Gardenhire talked prior to Saturday's game about the importance of getting the bottom of the lineup to produce ahead of Dozier in order to give the second baseman the chance to drive in more runs. With back-to-back singles ahead of Dozier's home run, Hicks and Escobar did just that.
"If we can get the bottom of the order to get on base and roll it over, he's going to come up with more and more RBI opportunities," Gardenhire said. "That's kind of what we're looking for. Tonight, he delivered."
Thanks in part to Dozier's deep drives, the Twins have won the first two games against Seattle to clinch their third straight series. Minnesota improved to 21-20 with Saturday's victory, the latest in a season they've been above .500 since the end of 2010.
The Twins now have the opportunity to earn a series sweep with one more win Sunday at Target Field. If they do, there's a chance "The Ignitor" could play a role in doing so.
"Keep riding this little wave," Dozier said. "Everything's clicking. It's a lot of fun."
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