Teachable moment, but loss is still a loss

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 12, 2012 - 11:21 PM

Twins shortstop Brian Dozier went for the sure out, but the Rays went on to score four runs in an extra-inning victory.

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Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights

That Bob Marley classic blasted throughout the Twins clubhouse after their 7-3, 10-inning loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday as they attempted to keep their chins up after being chewed up in three games by the playoff-serious Rays.

Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight

It also could be a rallying cry for rookie shortstop Brian Dozier, because there continue to be moments when the game appears to get the best of him.

A key play Sunday became another teaching moment for manager Ron Gardenhire and his pupil.

With the score tied 3-3, the bases loaded and one out in the 10th, Jeff Keppinger sent a chopper to short. Dozier rushed in, fielded the ball and threw to first base for the sure out, letting a run score.

No one knew at the time that it would be the first of four Rays runs in the inning. But the question was whether Dozier could have thrown home to force Desmond Jennings at the plate or started a double play.

"I thought he was going to try and turn a double play," Jennings said.

Dozier was in front of his stall, ready for questions once the media entered the clubhouse.

"Desmond Jennings, one of the fastest guys in the league, is at third," Dozier said. "If I'm playing in and a ball is hit softly to me, we still don't get him out. That's No. 1. No. 2 is it's a slow roller. I could have tried to go to second, but to be honest, there's no chance. To be honest with you guys, a smart infielder makes sure he gets one out right there.

"It's bad luck, but at the same time, you've got to make sure you get one out."

Replays make second-guessing easy, but it appeared Dozier had time to throw to second to start an inning- ending double play. Not a lot of time, but there appeared to be a window.

The other factor was that Jennings wasn't running hard on the play, making a force possible. Dozier added that he was shielded from the ball by B.J. Upton, who took off from second for third, forcing him to let Upton by before fielding the ball.

Dozier is correct in that getting at least one out is a wise move. But in that situation, he might have been able to stop a run.

The 10th unraveled from there. Tyler Robertson hit Carlos Pena with a pitch to load the bases, Ryan Roberts hit a two-run single off Casey Fein to make it 6-3 and Matt Joyce's double added another run.

It wasted a gutsy outing by Twins lefthander Scott Diamond, who wasn't sharp but held Tampa Bay to three runs over seven innings.

Dozier went 0-for-4 at the plate and dropped his average to .234. He has 15 errors in the field.

The Twins want more consistency from him and, a few weeks ago, talked about sending him to the minors to brush up on a few things.

When he went to the mound to remove Robertson, Gardenhire spoke with Dozier as Fein ran in from the bullpen. They were seen talking in the dugout during the bottom of the inning.

Gardenhire declined to criticize Dozier. He said he pointed out to the 25-year-old that he shouldn't worry about colliding with Upton because the runner gets called for interference if there's contact, and no run would have scored.

"I just want to know his thoughts on the play," Gardenhire said. "He's out there. We're not. 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 was expected to be back at short Monday, fighting through his rookie season.

La Velle E. Neal III • lneal@startribune.com

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