Dozier sets career high with 29th HR of '16

Dozier sets career high with 29th HR of '16

MINNEAPOLIS -- While the rest of Minnesota's offense has started to cool down around him, Brian Dozier has continued to stay hot.

Dozier connected on a solo shot in the fifth inning on Tuesday against the Tigers to set a career high with 29 homers on the season. It gave the Twins a brief one-run lead, but it wasn't enough, as the pitching faltered late in an 8-3 loss at Target Field.

The homer, off Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez, was crushed into the bullpen in left-center, leaving the bat at 99 mph and traveling a projected 401 feet per Statcast™. It impressed manager Paul Molitor, who has been pleased to see Dozier driving the ball to left-center and center more this season.

Dozier pulled the ball to left for 23 of his 28 homers last season, but this year he's hit only 18 of the 29 to left, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

"That ball was hit really well," Molitor said. "It wasn't carrying particularly well, but it found its way into the bullpen."

The homer was also Dozier's 21st since June 25, which is four more than any player over that span. He is hitting .293/.349/.688 over his last 52 games, with his slugging percentage leading the Majors.

It's been quite the turnaround for Dozier, who entered June 1 hitting .202/.294/.329 in 51 games. He's now batting .268/.341/.536 with 75 RBIs, which is two short of his career best, set last season.

"When you look at where he's at with his composite numbers and go back to the beginning of June, it's pretty phenomenal," Molitor said. "It's been a great couple of months. He's got a chance to set career highs in a lot of categories despite the struggles early."

With one more homer, Dozier will become the 15th Twins player to reach the 30-homer plateau and the first second baseman. The last to reach 30 was Josh Willingham, who clubbed 35 in 2012.

"It'll be fun if we see him get to 30 -- it's a pretty good milestone for a little second baseman," Molitor said with a smile. "But he's going about it methodically. It's not like he's up there urgently trying to get there. We're still seeing good at-bats from him along the way."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.