Let’s take the high road here. Let’s not spend all our time complaining about what failed to happen for Brian Dozier late on Friday afternoon. Let’s concentrate on what happened for Dozier at 10:33 p.m.
The Twins were trailing Detroit 6-1 entering the bottom of the ninth. At that point, they had been outscored 66-26 vs. the Tigers and were about to fall to 2-9 against them.
Justin Verlander, making his fifth start after a first-ever stretch on the disabled list, had been outstanding for the Tigers. Ervin Santana, making his second start after a return from an 80-game suspension for steroids use, had been horrendous for the Twins.
Bruce Rondon, a righthanded look-a-like for our old bullpen pal Jose Mijares, had gotten the last out in the eighth for Verlander. Detroit sent big Bruce back to get the needed three outs in the ninth.
Joe Mauer rolled a single up the middle. Miguel Sano was next. The rookie had his first bad night against the Tigers’ David Price on Thursday. He had managed a weak single on Friday.
This time Sano pulled a Rondon pitch deep into the left-field corner and it bounced for a ground-rule double. Rondon struck out Trevor Plouffe. The other rookie, Eddie Rosario, slashed an RBI single to left and that was it for Rondon.
Detroit manager Brad Ausmus went to his closer, Joakim Soria. In a beleaguered bullpen, Soria had 20 saves in 22 chances, and had a streak of seven scoreless appearances.
Soria also had been extra tough in 41 career appearances vs. the Twins, with 23 saves.
Down 6-2, Rosario went on a steal and he was called out at second by Mark Wegner. What Wegner had imagined in making this call was hard to figure, because Rosario looked safe to the naked eye — and was safe without a doubt on replay.
The call was reversed after a couple of minutes and now the Tigers had an issue: runners on second and third, one out, and Soria didn’t look sharp. Catcher Alex Avila walked out to get together with Soria on a pitch a couple of times.
Eventually, Aaron Hicks drew a walk. Let’s pause to say this:
Hicks isn’t Capt. Dynamite with the bat, but he has been a much-better all-around player in his two stays with the Twins in 2015 than in the previous two seasons when he often seemed to be horrified to be in the batter’s box (especially lefthanded).
Kurt Suzuki was next, and he had a couple of hits, but this did not prevent someone in the press box from asking:
“Why doesn’t the manager [Paul Molitor] use Eduardo Nunez here? He can hit. Or even the other Eduardo … Escobar?”
OK, we’ll admit it: The someone was me.
Suzuki wound up getting nicked by a pitch for the ever-popular, bases-loaded, hit-by-pitch RBI. And the best part, it didn’t hurt at all.
Now, it was 6-3 and time for the ninth hitter, Danny Santana. If it were his rookie year, 2014, Twins fans would’ve been happy to see young Danny.
This is 2015, and I wasn’t alone in saying: “Hey, Molitor, pinch-hit an Eduardo … any Eduardo will do.’’
Santana hit a liner over second for a two-run single. There still was one out, it was 6-5, and the Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was looking around to see if Jose Valverde was anywhere to be found. Maybe he could have come in and bored the Twins into a stupor.
Nope. It was still Soria, and the hitter was Dozier, approximately 5½ hours after it became official that the #VoteDozier campaign pushed mightily by the Twins had failed to get him on the All-Star team.
The Royals’ computer whizzes had got it done for Mike Moustakas, giving Kansas City a much-needed seventh player on the AL squad.
Soria started with a slider. It was not as high or inside as Dozier seems to like ’em best, but it was high enough and over the middle, and he did what he does:
Pulled the ball, and it was gone from contact.
Twins 8, Detroit 6.
All-Star team … who cares? Twins fans will take his hits as game winners into the left-field seats and put their second baseman in another category: All-World.
Oh, and about that high road, forget it. Seven Royals? Go National League.