Brian Dozier tied Chuck Knoblauch for second-most leadoff home runs in Twins history Wednesday night. But Knoblauch surged back into the lead a couple of hours later.
Dozier’s blast into the left-field seats off Houston lefthander Dallas Keuchel, his 14th career leadoff homer, was wiped away at 10:35 p.m., when umpires decided that the steady rain that interrupted the game in the third inning would not ebb for several more hours. The Twins’ 5-0 lead against the reigning American League Cy Young winner? Never happened.
Instead, the teams will ignore Thursday’s sketchy forecasts, cross their fingers and try to make up the rainout at 6:10 p.m., after playing what was supposed to be the series finale at 12:10 p.m.
The pitching matchup for the first game remains the same: Twins rookie Jose Berrios against Houston righthander Doug Fister. Tommy Milone, who pitched one inning in relief Sunday at Tampa Bay, will be asked to start the second game, against Houston righthander Chris Devenski.
Only the night game will be televised by Fox Sports North; fans with tickets to Wednesday’s game — who received, appropriately enough, free umbrellas as they entered — can use them again Thursday night, or exchange them for tickets to a game later this season.
“You get off to a good start against a good pitcher, and you’ve got your best guy [Ervin Santana] out there — and you just have to wipe it off the slate like it never happened,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We tried hard to play. But they probably did the right thing.”
Probably so, since the rain continued well into the night. But it cost Dozier his 24th home run of the year, as well as the Twins’ biggest second-inning rally — four runs, aided by a pair of Astros errors — of the season.
With a doubleheader Thursday, both teams will call up an extra player who can play in both games. For the Twins, that player will be one from their past.
Lefthander Andrew Albers, who last pitched for the Twins on Sept. 23, 2013, will be called up from Class AAA Rochester. Albers, who memorably pitched 17⅓ shutout innings to open his MLB career for the Twins in August 2013, has appeared in only one MLB game since leaving Minnesota, for Toronto last year. In 2014, he pitched in South Korea, and the 30-year-old Canadian re-signed with the Twins organization in April.
The Astros are calling up lefthander Kevin Chapman as their 26th player.
Dozier: ‘I’m speedy’
Dozier is one of three major league players to lead his team in doubles, triples and home runs, and unlike the other two — Daniel Murphy of the Nationals and Corey Seager of the Dodgers — he is the outright leader in all three categories.
Wait, triples? Must be a fluke.
“I don’t know about ‘fluke,’ ” Dozier said. “I’m speedy. Nobody can catch me.”
Well, let’s not get carried away. For one thing, his status as triples leader is mostly a product of Byron Buxton’s difficulties at the plate. But his five triples this season, already a career high, are understandable, the five-year veteran said, because of his determination to pull the ball less and use the entire field more.
“For a righthanded hitter to hit triples, you have to go to right center more. And I’ve hit more balls to right-center than ever,” Dozier said, and he’s right. He’s already recorded more opposite-field hits this year than in any other season, and his second-inning single to center Wednesday gives him 53 up-the-middle hits; his career high is 64.
And all five of his triples this season have been in the right-center gap, or down the right-field line. He had never hit more than one triple into the right-field corner in a season. “You never know about triples,” Dozier said, “but this year, they are possibly a byproduct of using the whole field.”