Buxton, homer-happy Twins topple Diamondbacks
MINNEAPOLIS — Byron Buxton said he saw the ball bounce away from the Arizona Diamondbacks’ center fielder and made up his mind he was going to try and score.
Buxton, the Minnesota Twins’ speedy center fielder, was just a couple feet past first base when he made the decision. Even a slight misstep around third base couldn’t keep Buxton from an inside-the-park home run.
Buxton’s energy sparked his team to a big win.
Buxton had his second career inside-the-park home run and was a single away from a cycle. Miguel Sano went deep twice and Minnesota tied a season high with six home runs in a 10-3 win over the Diamondbacks on Friday.
“About two steps around first base, once I saw the ball had kicked away from him,” Buxton said of his decision to score. “It was kind of just put my head down and run.”
Sano and Eduardo Escobar each hit two-run shots in the seventh inning for the Twins. Max Kepler and Brian Dozier added solo homers while Ervin Santana recovered from a tough start to pitch six steady innings.
After Buxton scored the tying run in the fourth with a headfirst slide into home, he pumped his fist and was very animated.
“Just show a little bit more emotion,” Buxton said. “They tell me a lot that I don’t show enough emotion. I need to show emotion. So I just tried to do something to get us going.”
Santana (13-7) allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out six batters as the Twins moved into a tie for the second American League wild card with the victory.
Zack Godley (5-6) had his shortest major league outing since April 26 in going 5 1/3 innings. He gave up four runs on nine hits and two walks. Godley, who was 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA in his previous four starts, struck out 10 batters.
“They’re big league hitters, so when you make those mistakes they take advantage of it,” Godley said. “I gave up a couple of big hits, it felt like every hit I gave up was a double or a triple or a home run.”
Arizona wasted no time getting to Santana, the All-Star right-hander. David Peralta led off the game with a single and scored on Jake Lamb’s single. Lamb came around to score on a single by Paul Goldschmidt.
Peralta added his 13th homer, a solo shot to the opposite field, in the second inning. After A.J. Pollock singled, Santana got locked in. He struck out five straight hitters and retired 10 in a row.
“I feel great and I just have a good rhythm going after that,” Santana said. “So, just keep it going.”
Buxton stole the show from there. He tripled to the left-center field gap in the second and trotted home on a double by Jorge Polanco. Kepler hit a solo homer leading off the bottom of the third, his 16th of the season that went to the second deck in right-center field.
Buxton tied the game an inning later with his dash around the bases. He led off the inning with a high drive off the right-field wall that bounced away from Pollock in center field. Buxton used his speed to round the bases in 13.85 seconds, according to Major League Baseball’s Statcast — the fastest time it’s ever recorded.
“It’s elite, to use a Gopher word,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Buxton’s speed. “It’s hard to compare at that speed, but I don’t know if many guys could come close to that time from home-to-home.”
Turns out, Buxton’s prognostication skills are elite, as well. He said he told Sano before the game that the big slugger would have two homers in the game. Sano’s first shot was to the second deck in left-center field over the bullpens. His second homer reached the third deck and was estimated at 474 feet.
“Some of those balls are ridiculous,” Buxton said, adding that the distance of the two homers is more impressive than his inside-the-park sprint. “I know today we was talking about each other and I said, ‘You know, you’re going to hit two home runs today.’ I kept repeating it. Just had a feeling that he was going to get locked in.
“Right before he hit the first one, I said, ‘Hey man, be you. Don’t worry about anything. Just go out there and be yourself.’ I think that kind of clicked for him.”
NOTES: Minnesota officially placed OF Robbie Grossman on the 10-day disabled list with a fractured left thumb and recalled C Mitch Garver from Triple-A Rochester. Grossman is expected to miss at least three weeks. Garver will be making his major league debut. ... Arizona LHP Robbie Ray came out of Thursday’s rehab start feeling good, according to manager Torey Lovullo. Ray will join the team in Minnesota as the Diamondbacks decide when he might rejoin the rotation. Lovullo indicated it could be sometime after Monday. Ray has been on the seven-day concussion disabled list since being hit in the head by a line drive on July 27. ... Lovullo said SS Nick Ahmed (right hand fracture) will play in a rehab game on Saturday with the Diamondbacks rookie league team in Arizona. Ahmed will play DH before returning to the field. Lovullo said RHP Randall Delgado (right elbow inflammation) felt good after throwing off flat ground on Thursday. ... Arizona bench coach Ron Gardenhire was honored before the game by Minnesota. It’s Gardenhire’s first trip back to Target Field with an opposing team. Gardenhire is the winningest manager in Twins history with 1,068 victories in 13 seasons.