Dozier has blast celebrating winning birthday
MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a nice way for Brian Dozier to celebrate his 28th birthday.
The second baseman hit a game-tying homer in the third inning and came through with the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh to help lead the Twins to a 3-2 win over the Rays on Friday night at Target Field.
Dozier said the last time he remembered hitting a homer on his birthday was when he was 12 years old, but he said it wasn't the reason for his big grin after his solo blast off Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi in the third.
"You don't really think about it," Dozier said. "It just came in a big situation to tie the game up."
Dozier's final at-bat also came in a big situation after Aaron Hicks started a rally with a leadoff single off Odorizzi in the seventh. Danny Santana followed with an RBI triple down the right-field line to tie it and knock Odorizzi from the game.
The Rays brought in hard-throwing right-hander Kevin Jepsen, who started Dozier off with a fastball on the inside corner that Dozier took for a strike. But Dozier noticed Jepsen shake off catcher Rene Rivera, and felt he was coming with another fastball instead of an offspeed pitch and he guessed right, as he was able to line the ball to center to bring home Santana.
"He shook and so something told me he was going to come back with a fastball," Dozier said. "He left it right over the middle of the plate."
Dozier's at-bats impressed manager Paul Molitor, as Dozier now has a seven-game hitting streak, batting .345 during that span.
"He's been swinging the bat well," Molitor said. "He took advantage of a high fastball. The last at-bat was big. We've had a brief period here of not cashing in with guys at third with less than two outs. But he took that first-pitch that was a borderline strike, but then was able to hit that second pitch to center."
It helped right-hander Phil Hughes get the win after he gave up just two runs on five hits over seven innings. He's bounced back after a rough start to the year, as he was 0-4 in April, but improved to 3-0 in May.
"I would've liked my stuff to be a little bit crisper, but the result is what you're looking for," Hughes said. "I made some progress. Hopefully, I'm going in the right direction and can build on this one, and string together some good starts."
After Hughes departed, reliever Blaine Boyer stretched his scoreless streak to 15 innings, while closer Glen Perkins tossed a scoreless ninth for his 12th save and the 100th of his career.
"It means that we're winning games," Perkins said. "In the last couple years when I got my 12th save of the season, I'm sure it wasn't this early."