08 Jul

leading men

Draw a bead on Target Field. Baltimore vs. Minnesota on a Friday night, a pair of Mississippians batting leadoff for their respective clubs. What happened was sort of a microcosm of the season for both the Orioles and the Twins. Jackson native Seth Smith led off the game with a home run for the O’s, helping them build a 6-0 lead. It didn’t hold up. Fulton’s Brian Dozier went 2-for-5 with a triple, a run and an RBI as the Twins rallied for a 9-6 victory. Dozier capped Minnesota’s scoring with a single in the eighth that somehow scored Byron Buxton from first base. It was the fifth straight loss for the Orioles (40-46), who now trail Boston by 9.5 games in the American League East after leading the division not so long ago. Buck Showalter, the ex-Mississippi State star, has seen his O’s lose 30 of 45 road games. Ole Miss alum Smith, in his first season in Baltimore, is batting .250 with a .319 on-base average, nine homers and 19 RBIs. The O’s, who had visions of a playoff berth this year, were probably expecting something better when they traded for Smith, though their collapse can hardly be pinned on him. The Twins, not considered a contender this year, continue to hang around in the AL Central, which they led not so long ago. At 45-41, they are just 1.5 games back of first-place Cleveland. Southern Miss product Dozier, coming off a monster 2016, hasn’t been as scary this year but has contributed in fits and spurts, batting .250 with 13 homers, 40 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. The scrappy Twins typically follow the lead of their scrappy second baseman.

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