There was a murmured “oooh” from the Target Field crowd, a barely audible groan, when the Twins’ Brian Dozier let Danny Duffy’s first pitch go by in the first inning against Kansas City on Wednesday night.
What a letdown. No first-pitch heroics for baseball’s hottest home run hitter.
Dozier eventually struck out, and for only the second time this month, he didn’t smash a home run.
But something else was unusual about Wednesday’s game against the Royals, too: The Twins won. And Dozier played a big role in that, too.
Robbie Grossman hit his 10th home run of the season, Byron Buxton scored a run with his baserunning and another with his bat, and Dozier scored the tying run during Minnesota’s two-run rally that carried them to a 6-5 victory. The Twins beat the reigning world champions for the first time since Aug. 13, and only the third time in 16 meetings, stopping a seven-game losing streak to Kansas City.
“Doz didn’t homer, but he created a run for us with a good at-bat. I don’t know when the last time he had a single was,” Twins manager Paul Molitor joked of Dozier’s seventh-inning line drive, while the Twins trailed by a run. “It paid off because he instinctively stole second base, and we cashed it in,” with Miguel Sano doubling him home, then scoring the go-ahead run on Eduardo Escobar’s two-out single.
The Twins got just enough pitching, just enough hitting, and a handful of clutch plays, some heartening signs in a stretch that’s been mostly dreadful. Buxton made one such play after doubling off K.C. starter Danny Duffy, simply by hustling on what appeared to be an inning-ending groundout by Sano. But Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar’s throw pulled first baseman Eric Hosmer off the bag, and Buxton didn’t stop at third. He raced home and slid safely under catcher Drew Butera’s tag.
“I saw that play a few times, where the runner stopped at third and he could have had a chance to score,” Buxton said. “So I know I’ve got to be ready every play, make sure I go full effort.”
In the eighth, Buxton struck again, launching a pitch from Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera into the left-field seats, his fourth home run in a week. That run became important when closer Brandon Kintzler allowed a ninth-inning run, but still picked up his 14th save.
Kyle Gibson pitched six innings and allowed four runs, not officially a quality start but still his best outing in three weeks. He allowed a runner to reach base in each of his six innings, and surrendered solo home runs to a pair of former Twins, Butera and Kendrys Morales.
• As if his first call-up to the majors after 10 years in the Twins’ system wasn’t a big enough surprise for James Beresford, he got an even bigger one Wednesday. Beresford’s parents, Ian and Chris, arrived at Target Field at around 6 p.m., having traveled 25 hours from the family’s home in Melbourne, Australia, to see their son in a major league uniform for the first time.