EditorsNote: fixes headline
Buxton homer gives Twins 2nd straight 10th-inning walk-off
MINNEAPOLIS — If the Minnesota Twins keep winning games like this, they will need to buy more bubble gum.
For the second night in a row, a Twins player hit a game-winning home run in extra innings. Thursday was Byron Buxton’s turn to play the hero.
Buxton hit a solo homer in the 10th inning — the first walk-off home run of his big league career — and was showered with bubble gum and sunflower seeds as Minnesota celebrated its 3-2 win against the Toronto Blue Jays.
One night earlier, Eddie Rosario sent the Twins home victorious with a two-run homer in the 10th inning against the San Diego Padres. Rosario, too, was on the receiving end of a cascade of bubble gum from his teammates.
“Hopefully we’ve got some more in stock,” Buxton said. “That comes with having fun and us enjoying the game.”
Buxton’s 15th homer of the season came with two outs against Blue Jays reliever Luis Santos (0-1). Buxton didn’t miss on the 1-0 offering, sending it approximately 390 feet into the left field seats.
With the win, the Twins (77-69) hold a three-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the race for the second American League wild card.
Back-to-back walk-offs have certainly added to the excitement in Minnesota as the Twins look for their first postseason berth since 2010.
“This is a special group of guys that I’m playing with,” Buxton said. “It’s a lot of fun just to be able to go out and play side-by-side with these guys.”
The heroics from Buxton came one inning after Twins closer Matt Belisle blew the save by giving up a two-out homer to Toronto’s Justin Smoak. It was the fifth blown save of the year for Belisle, who was only one out away from his eighth save since taking over as Minnesota’s closer.
After winning 16-0 against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, Minnesota has since had a pair of extra-inning, walk-off victories.
“They take a little bit out of you, the back and forth and missed opportunities,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “You never know when one pitch might swing the game one direction or the other.”
Dillon Gee (2-2) threw one scoreless inning for the win.
Both teams had a .500 record in one-run games prior to Thursday. The Blue Jays (68-79) fell to 24-25 in those contests. Minnesota is now 15-14 in games decided by one run.
“We just haven’t been scoring a whole lot of runs lately,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “We’ve been playing a lot of 2-1, those kind of ballgames.”
Jorge Polanco drove in Minnesota’s first two runs with one swing of the bat. Polanco’s bases-loaded single in the fifth put the Twins up 2-1 after Toronto took the lead in the top of the inning.
Twins reliever Trevor Hildenberger picked up two of the game’s biggest outs in the top of the seventh inning. He entered in relief of Alan Busenitz, who exited the game with runners on the corners and one out. Hildenberger proceeded to strike out Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales to neutralize Toronto’s threat.
Minnesota starter Jose Berrios went 5 2/3 innings and struck out five while allowing just one run. Blue Jays starter Brett Anderson lasted just 4 1/3 innings and gave up two runs.
Anderson said a blister on his index finger started bothering him later in the game, leading to his early exit.
“Kind of a freak blister thing,” he said. “Felt fine going into the fifth, got the first out, ground ball, and then threw a couple pitches to (Ehire) Adrianza and just lost the feel for the strike zone and lost the feel for the ball.”
NOTES: Minnesota 3B Miguel Sano said that the stress reaction in his left shin continues to be frustrating, but he hasn’t ruled out playing again by the end of the season. Sano has been out since Aug. 20. Manager Paul Molitor said Sano likely would face Twins pitchers in a simulated game before returning. ... Twins INF Engelb Vielma was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants. Vielma was designated for assignment Tuesday to make room for LHP Gabriel Moya on the 40-man roster. Vielma, a defensive specialist as an infielder, batted a combined .229 in 121 games between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester this season. ... RHP Roberto Osuna rejoined the Blue Jays after missing time earlier this week for the birth of his child. He threw a side session Thursday and will be available Friday out of the bullpen.