Dozier's hustle sparks Twins' wild rally
Sliding single, Plouffe's clutch hit pave way for comeback
BALTIMORE -- The first eight innings of Minnesota's 4-3 win Sunday afternoon were fairly boring for the Twins, with the exception of Miguel Sano's two-run homer in the first.
After three collecting three hits in the opening frame, the Twins saw 17 batters go up to the plate and quickly return to the dugout as Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman mowed through the lineup. It wasn't until a Manny Machado error in the seventh inning that the Twins saw another baserunner.
But the offensive lull paved the way for an incredible ninth, as the Twins completed a sweep of the seven-game season series and picked up their first series win against the Orioles since 2007 -- just the second in team history.
The ninth began with Brian Dozier hitting a slow roller to first base that Chris Davis nonchalantly fielded before noticing Dozier charging down the line. Davis flipped the ball to Zach Britton, who was late in covering the bag, but Dozier dove headfirst and his hand made it to the bag before the Orioles closer's spikes did.
"I think there are three times you really want to slide into first," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "A play when you have a chance to beat a pitcher over there, especially a left-handed pitcher who might tag you on the back is the time to try and get down and maybe try and get extended. It was the time to do it and might have made the difference between him being safe and out."
The hustle play was followed by a Joe Mauer groundout that advanced Dozier to second, setting up the game-tying run with the red-hot Sano at the plate. Except it wasn't Sano's bat that was flaming, it was his manager.
Molitor was ejected after Sano was called out attempting to check his swing. After first-base umpire Gabe Morales called Sano out, Molitor stormed out of the dugout before he was quickly tossed by both Morales and home-plate umpire Chris Conroy.
"I thought Dozier didn't swing [earlier in the game] and I didn't think Sano swung, and sometimes you need to make a little bit of a stand, and it seemed like the right time," Molitor said. "I don't lose emotional control often, but I was pretty hot at the moment given the fact that we are trying to find a way to stay in the game. I got what I deserved for going out there."
The Minnesota skipper stood in the hallway of the dugout as Trevor Plouffe came through with the game-tying single that scored the hustling Dozier. Plouffe's RBI pushed the game into extras, and to an eventual Twins' victory, their third consecutive comeback win.
"We showed that we're not giving up," said left-hander Tommy Milone, who picked up his first career save. "We just go out and battle, and we are going to grind out games until the very end."