MINNEAPOLIS — A lot went through Twins shortstop Brian Dozier’s mind as he fielded a slow roller off the bat of Rays third baseman Jeff Keppinger in the 10th inning Sunday.
With the bases loaded and one out, Dozier had options — and a choice to make. He could have tried for the force out at home for the second out with speedy Desmond Jennings at third. He could have tried to turn an inning-ending double play with a throw to second. Or he could make sure he got the easy out at first base, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
With all that in mind, Dozier processes the situation and chose option No. 3, firing to first to retire Keppinger. It resulted in a run as Jennings scored from third for a one-run Rays lead. The play ultimately proved costly, as Tampa Bay went on to score three more runs in the inning to beat the Twins 7-3.
After the game, Dozier explained his thought process, saying he believed he had no chance at getting Jennings for the out at home since he was lined up at double play depth.
“I knew I wasn’t going home because there’s a 100 percent chance you don’t get Jennings at home plate,” Dozier said. “You can either try to get one out at second or one out (at first). You don’t turn a double play no matter what. It’s kind of just bad luck, to be honest with you.”
On the play, pinch runner Sam Fuld advanced to second and B.J. Upton went from second to third. Both players eventually came around to score on a two-out hit by Ryan Roberts off reliever Casey Fien. Carlos Pena scored one batter later on a Sean Rodriguez double, completing the Rays’ four-run inning.
Had the Twins turned the double play on Keppinger’s slow roller — they already turned three double plays earlier in the game — they would have escaped the inning without a run. After the play, manager Ron Gardenhire came to the mound to take out reliever Alex Burnett and appeared to have a conversation with Dozier.
After the game, Gardenhire stood by his shortstop’s decision.
“I just want to know his thoughts on the play. He’s out there. We’re not,” Gardenhire said. “Everybody has an opinion on where he should’ve thrown the ball. But I’m going to back my player here. He did what he thought was right. He saw the speed, the whole package and got the out at first base. He’s the one out there playing the game.”
Dozier appeared to take the play to heart after the game, but reiterated his thinking during a moment where plenty was hinging on one play.
“To be honest with you guys, a smart infielder makes sure he gets one out right there,” he said. “It’s bad luck, but at the same time, you’ve got to make sure you get one out. I’m an aggressive player that if I try to go two and get one out at two, it’s bang-bang either way.”
Span day-to-day after leaving with shoulder injury: Twins center fielder Denard Span left Sunday’s game after hurting his shoulder when he dove for a ball in the sixth inning. Darin Mastroianni replaced him in the lineup and played right field. Ben Revere moved from right field to center to replace Span defensively.
After the game, Gardenhire said X-rays on Span’s shoulder were negative. He’s listed as day-to-day.
Span injured his shoulder while trying to catch a ball hit to center field by Keppinger. As span dove, he dug his knee into the outfield grass and then landed awkwardly on his right shoulder. He stayed in the game for the rest of the inning but was replaced in the seventh.