Brian Dozier is showing signs of another second-half power surge, something which could keep the Minnesota Twins in the thick of things down the stretch. The Twins will look for more from Dozier when they take on the host Houston Astros on Sunday in the rubber game of a three-game series.
Dozier smacked 28 long balls after the All-Star break in 2016 en route to a career-high 42, and the slugging second baseman has gone deep in his first two games since Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic. His leadoff homer set the stage for Minnesota’s 4-2 win Saturday night, which snapped the club’s three-game slide and its seven-game losing streak against the Astros. The Twins activated first baseman Joe Mauer (back) from the 10-day disabled list Saturday while placing center fielder Byron Buxton (groin) on the DL. Houston, which had scored 29 runs over its previous two games before being limited to seven hits in Saturday’s loss, gives the ball to veteran Mike Fiers on Sunday opposite Kyle Gibson.
TV: 2:10 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), ATT Sportsnet - Houston
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Kyle Gibson (5-7, 6.31 ERA) vs. Astros RH Mike Fiers (5-4, 3.84)
Gibson capped a rocky first half with seven runs allowed in four innings during a loss to Baltimore last Sunday. In addition to being his shortest start in over two months, he finished it with one strikeout and two walks, giving him 12 of each over a span of five outings. Gibson has been immune to Minnesota’s recent issues with Houston, going 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in four career starts versus the Astros.
Fiers allowed three runs in six innings of a loss at Toronto on July 8 while serving up his first home run since May 25. The Florida native defeated the Twins with six strong innings and eight strikeouts on May 30. Fiers has a 2.89 ERA in eight starts at home this year.
1. Houston is 46-19 against right-handed starters.
2. Astros ace LHP Dallas Keuchel (neck) is expected to begin a rehab assignment Monday with Double-A Corpus Christi.
3. Dozier has six home runs in 14 career games at Minute Maid Park.
PREDICTION: Astros 6, Twins 4