Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

League-leader Dozier enjoying run of first-inning HRs

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: April 13, 2014 - 11:52 AM

    Brian Dozier isn't sure whether leadoff home runs are something prone to hot streaks. "If I hit one today, come back and ask me again," he said with a laugh.

    But Dozier has made a habit of the first-inning home run lately. Saturday's leadoff shot was his third first-inning home run this year, and second in three days. Five of his last eight have come in the first inning, in fact. Thursday's homer against Oakland's Dan Straily wasn't a leadoff blast only because he was batting second behind Darin Mastroianni, but it had the same effect.

    "It's just trying to set a tone with the starter, to see his pitches. I'm not looking to jump on a fastball, but sometimes you can" because the pitcher is also trying to establish his pitches, Dozier said.

    The early home runs have put Dozier in an unlikely spot -- tied for the AL lead in home runs. Tell me who doesn't fit in this group -- Jose Abreu, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista ... and Brian Dozier. All have four home runs this season, more than David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Robertson Cano, Mike Trout, Prince Fielder, Josh Hamilton, etc.

    "It's kind of fun, isn't it?" Dozier laughed.  I didn't get the feeling he expects to hang with that company the rest of the season (or even the month), but he's enjoying being able to contribute despite his .182 average.

    In fact, the Twins' surprising offense, second highest-scoring in the league so far, is near the top of all three Triple Crown categories. Dozier is tied for the home run lead, Chris Colabello is tied for the lead in RBIs, and Jason Kubel's .405 average is second behind Alexi Ramirez's .413.

    Dozier is batting first again today, as the Twins try to sweep the Royals. At the bottom of the order is Pedro Florimon, still floundering at 2-for-28 on the season. Eduardo Nunez hit a home run for Class AAA Rochester yesterday, and manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game that "we're going to have some big decisions to make soon."

    The Twins today face Jason Vargas, the Royals' big free-agent addition to their rotation. It's overcast and cold, 43 degrees at the moment, but the rain is supposed to hold off until late afternoon. Here are today's lineups:

ROYALS

 

Aoki RF

Infante 2B

Hosmer 1B

Butler DH

Gordon LF

Perez C

Moustakas 3B

Cain CF

Escobar SS

 

Vargas LHP

 

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Plouffe 3B

Colabello RF

Kubel LF

Pinto DH

Suzuki C

Hicks CF

Florimon SS

 

Correia RHP

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