CLEVELAND – One dozen. It was supposed to have such emotional meaning for Brian Dozier.
Instead of being a milestone of achievement, Dozier will associate the number 12 with defeat as well.
The Twins second baseman launched the first pitch of Tuesday’s game more than 430 feet into the left-center bleachers at Progressive Field, making him the first Twin since Harmon Killebrew to crush a dozen homers in a single month. But the lead he provided was only fleeting; by game’s end, 12 took on a more somber meaning: One dozen consecutive losses, this one 5-4 to the Indians.
“It’s all about wins. No matter how many homers you hit in a month, you look up and there’s 12 straight losses,” Dozier said. “I’ll trade those [homers] for 12 wins, any time.”
Instead, he now plays for the team with the worst record in baseball, the Atlanta Braves having equaled their 49-83 record with a win on Tuesday. And for a team that in its 56-year history has only twice before suffered a longer stretch of defeat — 13 games in 1961, and a franchise-record 14 straight in 1982. So Dozier won’t condone any celebration of his incredible month for a while, won’t accept any recognition for joining Killebrew (who did it six times, most recently in July 1969) and Jimmie Hall as the only Twins to reach or surpass one dozen.
“I don’t think there’s any celebrating to be done. They didn’t have 83 losses at this time of year, that’s the frustrating part of it,” Dozier said. “It’s pretty cool, I guess, but it is what it is — I’m very undeserving of being mentioned with” the Hall of Famer.
Then how about being mentioned with Jacque Jones? Dozier’s homer was the Twins’ first home run on the game’s first pitch since Jones accomplished the feat on June 7, 2003, in San Diego, and moved him past Chuck Knoblauch for second-most leadoff homers — 15 now, four short of Jones’ club record.
Dozier’s homer wasn’t the only good sign for the Twins early; they scored four runs in the first two innings. But Andrew Albers, making his first big-league start since 2013, was punished by Indians batters, who collected five extra-base hits in the first two innings, including home runs by Jason Kipnis and Rajai Davis.
“It would have been nice to be the guy to get us out of [the losing streak] tonight,” Albers said. “I actually felt really good — maybe that was the problem, I felt too good [warming up]. I left a couple balls up, they ran back over the plate, and it really hurt.”
With the score tied 4-4 after two, both bullpens did a nice job of snuffing the offense, with one exception. Alex Wimmers, an Ohio State alum pitching in his home state, surrendered doubles to Davis and Francisco Lindor in the fourth, what turned out to be the decisive run in the Twins’ 12th straight loss.
• Trevor May and Tommy Milone will throw bullpen sessions Wednesday at Target Field, manager Paul Molitor said, as they take the first steps toward returning from the disabled list later this month. In addition, Phil Hughes will be on the field to play catch, his first activity since undergoing surgery to remove a rib last month. The Twins have no plans to have Hughes throw from a mound this year, but they want him healthy for next spring training.
• Lefthander Buddy Boshers faced three batters Monday for Class AAA Rochester and retired them all, his first rehab outing as he recovers from elbow inflammation.