Three extras from the Twins’ fourth straight loss, pulling them within one game of a .500 record, a level they haven’t been at since 12-12 in early May:
— Brian Dozier let the 3-2 pitch go by, pulled off his elbow pad, and took a step or two toward first base. Then he realized that plate umpire Tom Woodring had, well, Woodrung him up. Strike three? Dozier stood there in disbelief.
That’s about as angry as you’ll see Dozier on a baseball field, but it’s hard to blame him. He clobbered the ball twice on Wednesday, a line drive caught by Josh Donaldson and a screamer to left in the ninth, a shot that would have tied the game had Ben Revere not gotten to it before it could hit the ground. That capped an 0-for-5 night, and means the Twins’ All-Star is now 5-38 in his last nine games, a .132 average.
He’s batting .203 since his All-Star Game homer, and with a strikeout in 15 straight games now, he is just two games away from the Twins’ franchise record of 17 straight, held by George Mitterwald and Chris Colabello.
“I think he thought the pitch was low and outside,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Dozier’s called third strike. “And he had a chance to tie the game there, and hits the ball to left field like that. He’s frustrated. We’re all frustrated. We see what’s happening, the fact we’re having trouble winning games.”
Kevin Jepsen threw 13 pitches against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, and pronounced them much better than the 23 he threw in his Twins debut. Not that he had any concern about that two-run, two-walk outing on Sunday — but it was nice to put it in the past, too, he said.
“With the days off before it, and the hecticness of the trade and the move, I was just a little off in Minnesota,” Jepsen said of his outing against the Mariners. “It’s not like my stuff wasn’t good. I just wasn’t throwing strikes.”
He did in Rogers Centre, getting a ground out and two strikeouts in his second game as a Twin. But pitching on consecutive nights proved a problem; Jepsen pitched a scoreless seventh inning Wednesday, but walked two batters again, and made it worse by throwing two wild pitches as well.
I enjoyed interviewing LaTroy Hawkins on Tuesday, because he’s about as gracious an athlete — a human being — as you’ll ever meet. Friendly, polite and engaging. So I was happy for him when he achieved a career milestone on Wednesday, pitching out of a ninth-inning jam to record a save. That gives Hawkins a save against all 30 major-league teams, something only a dozen other relief pitchers have ever done. The other 12 are mostly career-long closers, too, while Hawkins has been a setup man for most of the past decade, so his feat might be even more remarkable.