MINNEAPOLIS -- It has got to the point where Brian Dozier doesn't even expect a home run when the ball soars toward right-center at Target Field.
So when the ball initially left his bat in the eighth inning, he was thinking double. But the ball carried a bit more than normal Saturday afternoon, right over the wall, which served as the go-ahead home run to lift the Twins past the Rays, 5-2.
"It's tough to hit them here at right-center. I thought for sure it was a double," Dozier said. "I don't get too excited when I see one that I think I get, because I have seen that net gobble it up plenty of times."
The blast came off a 2-1 fastball from Rays righty Tommy Hunter. According to Statcast™, the ball traveled an estimated 423 feet from the plate with an exit velocity of 104.5 mph. The projected distance was tied for the farthest blast by Dozier -- who has swatted seven -- in 2017.
And yet Dozier wasn't certain it was going to reward him with a trip around the bases until Target Field went into a frenzy. He has seen far too many balls get caught on the warning track in right-center throughout his career.
"I don't think he's had a ton of opposite [field] homers in his career," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "But that one he really got. It was kind of a no-doubter, which doesn't happen often the other way."
In fact, during the Statcast™ Era, Dozier had clubbed 37 homers at his home park entering Saturday. According to his spray chart, not a single one has landed past the right-center-field wall. Only one has even been recorded in right.
Here is a look at all the homers Brian Dozier has hit in Target Field during the Statcast era before today. pic.twitter.com/9xcoUpL2Cc
But that's not the only reason Dozier's latest homer was unique. It marked the first time all year that he has launched one with a runner on base.
After leading the team with 42 blasts last season, Dozier is second behind Miguel Sano's 11. However, as he displayed in the second half of last year, he is very capable of a rapid power surge, which bodes well for a team standing alone in first place in the American League Central.
"You guys get too caught up in home runs, I get caught up in wins," Dozier said. "I think everything is working pretty well."
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.