For the third time in less than a week, Brian Dozier stepped up to the plate with the game on the line and a chance to be the hero. And for the first time he was able to cash in his chips, as Dozier stroked a full count pitch from Marlins reliever Dustin McGowan (0-2) 362 feet into the left field seats to give the Twins a 6-4 win in 11 innings.
Twins left-handed reliever Buddy Boshers (1-0) struck out the only two batters he faced in the top half of the 11th to secure his first major league win. “You’ve gotta go out there and take advantage of the opportunities you’re given,” Boshers said. “I was able to do that tonight and we were able to pull out a big win. We battled back all night.”
Boshers said he got the ball after the game as a keepsake from his first MLB win.
The Marlins broke through for a run in the first off Twins starter Pat Dean, as the ageless Ichiro Suzuki singled off Dozier’s glove and advanced to second on a Martin Prado walk. Two fielder’s choice groundouts later and Ichiro raced across home with the game’s first run, though Dean danced out of danger by pitching around the heart of the Miami order.
Five pitches into the bottom half of the inning, the Twins had their first run — a mammoth 426-foot leadoff home run off the bat of Eduardo Nunez that reached the third deck — as well as a runner on second, and it appeared as though Marlins starter Adam Conley was headed for an early shower. That runner on second — Robbie Grossman courtesy of a double — eventually scored on a wild pitch, but Conley settled down, retiring the 12 of the next 13 batters before Nunez came calling again in the fifth inning.
The Marlins tied the game at two apiece with a triple off the bat of Adeiny Hechavarria and an RBI groundout from Ichiro in the third inning. The Marlins also tacked on single runs in the fourth — courtesy of three singles — and the fifth — a Prado double followed by a single from Christian Yelich — but were unable to push the needle any further the rest of the way.
Twins manager Paul Molitor was asked before the game which of his relievers he liked, and he proved that it was more or less all of them, as seven pitchers worked in relief of Dean, who lasted just 4.1 innings. “For me personally it was definitely frustrating with how things played out,” Dean said of his night. “I made some pretty decent pitches that didn’t go my way — one way or another. Luckily, the team came through and bailed me out, and it was a lot of fun to watch the end of that game.”
The others proved up to the task, as Michael Tonkin, Taylor Rogers, Ryan Pressly, Brandon Kintzler, Fernando Abad, Kevin Jepsen and Boshers combined for 6.2 innings of scoreless relief while allowing just three hits with 10 strikeouts and zero walks.
That allowed the Twins offense to chip away at the two-run deficit.
Nunez homered again — this time 416 feet to left-center — in the fifth against Conley to make it a 4-3 game. Conley again settled into a groove however, retiring seven of the last eight batters he faced — save for a Byung Ho Park walk to lead off the seventh — before handing the game off to his bullpen, starting with David Phelps.
It was Phelps who was on the mound in the eighth when Grossman smacked a home run — a 414-foot fence-scraper to the flower pots in right-center for his fourth as a Twin — to even the score at four runs apiece.
The teams remained deadlocked through the ninth and 10th innings, as Kyle Barraclough threw a pair of clean frames for the Marlins while Kintzler and Abad combined for a scoreless inning each for the Twins. Abad punctuated his with a swinging strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton with the go-ahead run in the form of Suzuki standing on second base.
Jepsen and Boshers combined to throw a scoreless 11th inning, with the latter coming on after the former had allowed a seeing-eye single to right off the bat of catcher J.T. Realmuto. Boshers fanned Justin Bour and Derek Dietrich — both left-handed hitters — to get the Twins to the bottom half still tied.
Grossman led off the 11th with a nine-pitch walk against McGowan, but was promptly thrown out stealing by a wide margin on a 2-1 pitch that Joe Mauer took for a ball. Mauer ultimately walked, and reached second on a swinging bunt from Trevor Plouffe. That set up the showdown between Dozier and McGowan, and after back-to-back disappointments at the hands of the Rays closer, Dozier wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip through his hands.
McGowan fell behind 2-0 before evening the count with a looking strike and a foul. McGowan let the count go full with a ball before delivering the fateful pitch, which Dozier drove 362 feet into the bleachers in left to send Mauer and 19,020 fans home.
Up Next – LHP Wei-Yin Chen (3-2, 4.25) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (2-4, 4.93) – 7:10 p.m. Wednesday
Notes and Quotes
- Dean’s diagnosis on why the Marlins gave him trouble on Tuesday night: “They just did a good job of being patient, and making me come to the a bit more of the middle of the plate instead of chasing my pitches. They did a good job of waiting me out, and making me come to them. It definitely made it a bit harder for me.”
- Boshers on not wanting to be the reliever to give up the string of zeroes his colleagues had put together late: “You try not to think about that kind of stuff and just go out there and try to execute your pitches, and ultimately the zeroes will come.”
- Boshers on the roster situation, and how he feels about pitching well of late: “You try not to think about that. If you start thinking about that kind of stuff, mentally you’re going to go out there and try do more than you should. You go out there and execute, and let them take care of the rest.”
- The win was Molitor’s 100th as a big league manager (100-119).
- The Twins improved to 6-5 in the all-time series with the Marlins.
- This was the first start in which Dean did not allow a home run in his big league career.
- The walk-off hit was Dozier’s fifth, and the third that was a home run.
- This was Nunez’ first career multi-home run game. His home run in the first was his third leadoff home run of his career — all coming this season.
- Mauer has reached base in 19 straight games.
- Grossman has reached in 16 of his 17 games with the Twins.
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