Brian Dozier was struggling to keep his average above .200 for the first two months of the season.
Then June arrived and Dozier turned into one of the hottest hitters in the majors.
Dozier homered twice and drove in four runs, Kyle Gibson pitched seven innings of five-hit ball for his first victory of the season, and the Minnesota Twins blanked the Chicago White Sox 4-0 on Tuesday night.
Dozier homered in his third straight game and extended his hitting streak to 10 games as the last-place Twins beat the White Sox for first time in seven tries.
”It’s contagious. I know that’s a boring answer, but it really is,” Dozier said. ”Guys heat up around you and you kind of feed off one another. I got a couple good pitches to hit.”
Gibson (1-5) struck out seven and walked one in his best performance since coming off the disabled list this month.
Ryan Pressly and Brandon Kintzler each got three outs to finish the six-hitter for Minnesota’s first shutout of the season.
”Thankfully, I was able to put up some zeros and keep some of the pressure off the offense,” Gibson said.
Dozier pulled both homers off Jose Quintana (5-8), a solo shot off a fastball in the second and a three-run drive off a curveball in the sixth for his third career multihomer game. Dozier’s 12th homer of the season drove in Eduardo Nunez, who had singled, and Joe Mauer, who walked.
Dozier has gone from .202 on June 1 to .259. In his 10-game hitting streak, he is hitting .439 (18 for 41) with five homers, three doubles and two triples.
”I think he’s just slowing himself down and getting a better look at the baseball,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ”I think he’s executing plans a little bit better and when he gets mistakes, he’s taking advantage.”
It was the ninth straight game with an extra-base hit for Dozier, the longest streak for the franchise since it moved to Minnesota in 1961. Dozier added an infield single off Chris Beck in the eighth.
”It’s all about driving the ball and staying behind the ball,” Dozier said.
The Twins won for the fifth time in eight games and slowed a White Sox team that thought it was on the upswing.
Chicago had won two straight series after a 10-26 stretch, but it was shut down by Gibson in the right-hander’s best start since he threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the White Sox on Sept. 13.
Todd Frazier went 0 for 4 and struck out twice, lowering his average to .198, and Melky Cabrera was 0 for 3 before leaving with a sore left wrist after six innings.
Rookie Tim Anderson had two hits for the White Sox, who again provided little support for Quintana. The lefty allowed six hits and struck out eight in seven innings.
After a 5-1 start, Quintana is 0-7 in his last nine outings despite a 3.18 season ERA.
”It’s been going on for two or three years,” Frazier said of Quintana’s lack of support. ”Maybe we try a little harder. I’m not saying pressing like `We got to, we got to.’ But maybe we go after it more rather than just see pitches.”