CHICAGO -- Stepping into the batter's box has been an enjoyable experience this month for Brian Dozier, whose torrid June continued in the Twins' 4-0 win in Tuesday's series opener against the White Sox.Dozier's 3-for-4 performance included two home runs off White Sox starter Jose Quintana, who'd held him to
CHICAGO -- Stepping into the batter's box has been an enjoyable experience this month for Brian Dozier, whose torrid June continued in the Twins' 4-0 win in Tuesday's series opener against the White Sox.
Dozier's 3-for-4 performance included two home runs off White Sox starter Jose Quintana, who'd held him to a .189 batting average in 37 career at-bats going into the game. Dozier, hitting cleanup for just the 10th time this season, extended his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games, and he has at least one extra-base hit in his last nine.
Asked if he enjoys hitting fourth, a spot from which he's hitting .439 with five home runs thus far, he just smiled.
"Do I like hitting fourth? I like hitting," he said. "Wherever it kind of makes this offense go ... One, two, three or four, it doesn't matter. Right now it seems to be going all right, but we still need to get over the hump offensively, as a unit, to score more runs."
Dozier didn't have quite as much fun at the plate during the first two months of the season. After hitting just .191 in April, he hit only slightly better in May, logging a .215 batting average with a .315 on-base percentage.
But he's put himself in contention for American League Player of the Month honors for June by hitting .361 with eight doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 19 RBIs.
"It's been a heck of a month when you talk about bumping your average up about 50 points, or maybe even a little bit more than that, and your power numbers start to come around," manager Paul Molitor said. "He's executing plans a little bit better, and when he gets mistakes, he's taking advantage."
Dozier launched two such mistakes from Quintana over the fence in left field. They weren't the longest home runs he's ever hit, but they all count the same, which is all he cares about. Earlier in the season, when his balance was off at the plate, it might have been a different story.
"I've been feeling pretty good at the plate for a while," he said. "You can be a pull hitter, but you still have to stay behind the ball rather than getting everything out front and jerking it. That was a little thing I had to overcome, I guess, in the month of April. But everything feels good right now."
That approach, he said, is the biggest reason for his nine-game string of games with an extra-base hit.
"I just found that out on Twitter last night," Dozier said. "It's all about driving the ball, staying behind the ball and getting those extra-base hits. And I like extra-base hits. They're fun."
Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago.