Paul Molitor, having led the Twins to 83 victories during his first season, never dreamed last spring that it would take until June 7 for him to reach the 100th of his career. And if you told him that it would take Eduardo Nunez’s two-homer game, Robbie Grossman’s late-inning heroics and Buddy Boshers’ first career victory to reach the milestone?
“Well, we had to work very hard for that win,” he said.
So maybe it was a little easier to believe that the manager’s 100th was ultimately delivered by Brian Dozier, socking a 3-2 slider into the second row in left field in the 11th inning for the 6-4 victory over the Miami Marlins. Dozier, after all, has hammered three walkoff homers during Molitor’s tenure.
“Jogging around the bases, it felt pretty good,” Dozier said. “Homers aren’t hit, they’re thrown. [Miami reliever Dustin McGowan] kind of threw a hanging breaking ball.”
No postgame dancing for Molitor, though, not with his team standing 17-40, not with it still having lost six of its past eight.
“I don’t think 100 is anything to dance about, really, especially the way I got there,” Molitor said. “It took a long time to get to 100.”
Nunez right now looks as if he might get to 100 home runs this year. The Twins’ best hitter this season cracked a 443-foot blast into the third deck to lead off the first inning, then followed it up with a 420-foot shot into the bullpen in the fifth.
“[He’ll have a] drug test probably, after that first one,” Molitor joked. “And the second one, to the farthest corner of the bullpen.”
“We need to all watch what he’s doing and try to copy that,” Dozier said of his fellow infielder. “He’s locked in right now; that’s a good thing. That’s fun to watch.”
So is Grossman, who in his 17th game as a Twin, doubled and scored, then belted a game-tying home run into the right field stands in the eighth inning. He has reached base in 16 of his 17 games with Minnesota.
But Dozier hit the biggest home run of the night, and had to battle to do it.
“McGowan threw me a lot of breaking balls, just one fastball. Once I got to 3-2, knew he was going to try to throw some off-speed pitch,” Dozier said. “I sat breaking ball right there.”
The home run handed Boshers his first career victory. The lefthander was the eighth Twins pitcher of the night, striking out both Marlins he faced, with a runner on first base, in the 11th.
It was the second time this season the Twins have hit four home runs.
The Marlins didn’t hit any, but they collected enough offense to force extra innings. Pat Dean, making his fourth major league start, had only one clean inning in five, and the Marlins scored single runs in four of them. Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with his 2,967th career hit, a single just out of Brian Dozier’s reach at second, and scored on a Giancarlo Stanton groundout a few moments later.
Adeiny Hechavarria tripled in the third inning and scored on another ground ball; three fourth-inning singles, the last by Miami second baseman Derek Dietrich, produced a third run. And a double by Martin Prado in the fifth, followed by Christian Yelich’s RBI single, ended Dean’s night after only 4 ⅓ innings, his shortest start yet.
In all, Dean gave up seven hits and four runs while striking out two. His ERA rose to 4.75.