MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier proved his right knee is just fine, as the Twins second baseman hit his first career inside-the-park homer in the fifth inning of Sunday's 3-1 loss to the White Sox. It was also the first in the Majors this year.
Dozier, who missed Saturday's game with knee soreness, smacked a 1-2 cutter from right-hander James Shields into deep center field, and the ball hit off Jacob May's glove and rolled along the warning track toward right field. Dozier beat the relay throw from shortstop Leury Garcia at home with a head-first slide to mark the second inside-the-park homer in Target Field history. He joined Eduardo Nunez, who had an inside-the-parker for the Twins last year.
"I saw it the whole way," said Dozier, who also never hit an inside-the-parker in the Minors. "When I saw it kick off to the right, I decided to get to a second gear. I couldn't get to fifth gear, but got it to a different gear."
It was the first homer of the season for Dozier, who belted a career-high 42 last year.
Dozier raced home in 15.41 seconds, marking the 10th-fastest inside-the-park home run in the Statcast™ era out of 19 recorded since 2015. For context, Byron Buxton was the last Twins player to accomplish the feat -- and the last in the Majors to do so -- and he did it in 14.05 seconds on Oct. 3, 2016, which was the fastest home-to-home time ever recorded by Statcast™.
"When the ball kicked off his glove and went pretty far away, that's when I thought he really had a chance," Twins third-base coach Gene Glynn said. "Brian was running hard the whole way. But I have to give that kid credit on the relay. They got it in, and it was just a little off the mark."
The play at the plate was close, but Dozier just beat it and celebrated with a big smile as he headed back to the Twins' dugout.
"They did everything they could to get it in," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "On the relay, Leury pulled the ball a little bit, but they did everything in their power to keep that guy from scoring."
Dozier's homer left the bat at 95.4 mph with a launch angle of 24 degrees, traveling a projected 374 feet. Balls hit with a similar exit velocity and launch angle have a hit probability of only 28 percent, per Statcast™, making it an unlikely homer.
"With no outs, you don't want to be overly aggressive, but the relay guy was pretty far out there and [Glynn] made the right call," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It gave us a 1-0 lead. We had been stagnated to that point. It put us on the board, and you don't see those every day."