While he isn't a household name, Brian Dozier is quietly emerging as one of the game's top second basemen.
The Twins (20-20) couldn't have asked for a better start from Dozier, who has thrived in his second full season. The former eighth-round pick is tied for the major league lead with 38 runs scored, and his 10 homers are the most at his position.
"He's a very intelligent baseball player," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins' official website. "People say he's not a leadoff hitter, but he sets the tone for us. He can hit a home run. He has quality at-bats. And he can run. So the mindset of him being our leadoff hitter, I know it's not perfect, but he'll get better at it."
Dozier has also gotten it done with his legs, leading the team with 12 stolen bases. He is batting .357 with two homers and eight RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.
"My job, and I've said it since day one, is getting on base," Dozier said. "Obviously, we all have goals or whatever, but I just want to win baseball games. And I know that if I can get on base and score runs, it gives us the best opportunity to win. So that's my job, and I'm sticking to it."
Dozier went 2 for 5 with a homer and two RBIs in Friday's series-opening 5-4 victory. The Twins have won four of five while collecting at least 10 hits in every game.
"Another exciting baseball game," Gardenhire said. "Guys come out swinging, and we kind of had to hang on there a little bit."
Minnesota will try to keep rolling behind Samuel Deduno (0-2, 3.64 ERA), who is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA over two starts since replacing Mike Pelfrey in the rotation. The right-hander yielded three runs and six hits over six innings but didn't factor in the decision of Sunday's 4-3 win at Detroit.
"I'm pretty happy because the team won," Deduno told MLB's official website, "but I'm also happy I was able to get to the sixth inning."
Deduno has baffled Seattle (20-21) in winning back-to-back starts in the series, striking out 15 while allowing five hits and three walks over 14 scoreless innings. He's had his way with Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak, who are a combined 1 for 14 in their matchups.
Deduno would appear to have a favorable matchup against a Mariners team that's hit .179 and scored five runs during a three-game losing streak.
Seattle will try to bounce back behind rookie Roenis Elias (3-2, 3.50), who wasn't sharp in Sunday's 9-7 loss to Kansas City. The left-hander went without a decision after yielding five runs - three earned - and a season-high nine hits over five innings.
"We got to remember this is a young pitcher we have to take care of," manager Lloyd McClendon said of the 25-year-old. "All in all he came out of the game with a lead. We would have liked him to go more but it just wasn't feasible today."
Elias has posted a 4.60 ERA in going winless over three home starts, but he owns a 3.23 mark on the road.