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Twins' patience at plate paying off

Special to MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- Twins second baseman Brian Dozier seemed surprised when told, after Monday's 3-2 victory over the Rangers, that his team had drawn more walks than any other MLB team entering Monday.

He shouldn't have been, considering how the Twins' three runs scored Monday. In the fifth inning, the Twins loaded the bases on three walks off Rangers lefty Martin Perez, whom Dozier said was beginning to lose the ability to locate his fastball. Even Byron Buxton, the No. 9 hitter who had been struggling, hitting .109 with just two walks in 58 plate appearances this year, stayed patient and worked a two-out walk off Perez.

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ARLINGTON -- Twins second baseman Brian Dozier seemed surprised when told, after Monday's 3-2 victory over the Rangers, that his team had drawn more walks than any other MLB team entering Monday.

He shouldn't have been, considering how the Twins' three runs scored Monday. In the fifth inning, the Twins loaded the bases on three walks off Rangers lefty Martin Perez, whom Dozier said was beginning to lose the ability to locate his fastball. Even Byron Buxton, the No. 9 hitter who had been struggling, hitting .109 with just two walks in 58 plate appearances this year, stayed patient and worked a two-out walk off Perez.

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So Dozier waited on Perez to throw a changeup -- Perez's "bread-and-butter pitch," according to the Twins' leadoff man -- and Dozier drove it into the gap, clearing the bases and giving the Twins the lead for good.

"He tried to get a little nasty, but he left it up, and I put a good swing on it," Dozier said. "You talk about manufacturing runs and identifying the one inning where you can win a ballgame. That was it. Buxton having a quality at-bat right before me, that's the game-changer. That's how you win games.

"We're not going up there trying to walk by any means, but taking advantage of a guy making mistakes can be a deciding factor."

The Twins began the day with 79 walks in 18 games (4.4 per game). The American League average was 62. Unlike Dozier, manager Paul Molitor didn't seem at all surprised when asked about the MLB-leading stat.

"That was one of the components that we added to what we thought we could be good at [in the offseason], trying to get a little better plate discipline and improve on our strikeout and walk ratios where we could," Molitor said. "Some guys are going to be a little more lopsided than others, but almost 20 games, I think it's paid dividends. There have been some games where bases on balls have been a part of what we've done, because we really haven't swung it real well yet. But the extra baserunners have been cashed in now and then, and have enabled us to win some games."

Minnesota had six hits and five were singles, so the walks and Dozier's gapper in the fifth inning were pivotal. The inning began with a flyout, but Kennys Vargas worked a five-pitch walk in which Perez wasn't close to the strike zone, then Chris Gimenez walked on five pitches, including two close balls. After Eddie Rosario's strikeout, Buxton walked on a 3-2 pitch just barely inside to load the bases.

"My swing felt a little bit better, timing was way better today," said Buxton, who walked twice Monday. "Timing was definitely a big issue for me being on time. Today I did a pretty good job working before the game and going out there and doing what I was supposed to, keeping my plan."

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Texas.

Minnesota Twins, Brian Dozier