Buxton belts 3 homers as Twins bust Blue Jays
TORONTO — John Gibbons has seen Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton many times on television highlight clips.
The Toronto Blue Jays manager had a chance to see him in person this weekend and came away even more impressed.
Gibbons watched Sunday as Buxton hit three home runs and had five RBIs in a four-hit game. They were career bests for the 23-year-old in each category and led the Twins to a 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays in the rubber match of the three-game series.
“I’ve seen him on TV enough on the highlight reels and he’s got as much talent as anybody out there in the game,” Gibbons said. “He’s a young kid just figuring it out. A huge day today, swinging the bat. A big play the other night in center field. He gets on the bases, you really have a tough time stopping him.”
Buxton also had an RBI single to go with his homers, which gave him a career-best 13 for the season.
“Some days you have like this where everything seems to be falling your way,” Buxton said. “Today was one of those days for me. I was seeing the ball good, being aggressive and not missing my pitches.”
Buxton has hit eight home runs in August.
“He’s just going to get better and better and they’re going to reap the rewards of it,” Gibbons said. “He plays the game the right way, he plays it hard. He’ll be around a long time playing great baseball I would think.”
With home runs in the fourth, seventh and ninth innings, Buxton became the eighth player in Twins history with a three-homer game.
“He’s got a lot of ways he can help you win games, his legs, bunting, home runs, defense, arm,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s fun to watch some of that talent start to flourish. ...
“Everyone was kind of top-stepping it leading off that inning with the day that he was having. He didn’t make us wait very long. He jumped on the first pitch. All three were kind of the same vector. They all had a nice sound. You get a nice reverberation there where I stand. They were no-doubters.”
Norichika Aoki had a solo homer and an RBI single among his three hits for the Blue Jays (61-69).
Twins starter Kyle Gibson (8-10) allowed seven hits, one walk and two runs while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings. He appreciates Buxton for his offense and defense.
“He’s a pretty spectacular player,” Gibson said. “He’s really coming into his own now. It’s cool, as his teammate, to watch him make plays in center field look easy.”
Toronto starter Joe Biagini (3-9) allowed nine hits, three walks and five runs in 3 2/3 innings.
“Bad pitches on a couple of occasions,” Biagini said. “I felt like early in the game I was doing a decent job of attacking and sometimes you can’t really control where the ball goes. ... Obviously, there were things that I could have done better in those instances.”
The Twins (67-63) scored in the first inning on Buxton’s RBI single.
Joe Mauer singled and Jorge Polanco doubled to start the rally. Mauer was thrown out at home by shortstop Ryan Goins on Eddie Rosario’s grounder.
The Blue Jays tied the score in the second on a double by Miguel Montero and a single by Aoki.
The Twins took a 3-1 lead in the third on a two-run single by Kennys Vargas. Polanco led off the inning with a double and took third on Rosario’s single.
Polanco was out on a rundown between third and home on Buxton’s grounder to third. Max Kepler walked to load the bases for Vargas.
The Twins led 5-1 after Buxton homered with two outs in the fourth. It also scored Mauer, who led off with a triple.
Aoki hit his fifth homer of the season in the bottom of the fourth.
Buxton homered against Matt Dermody in the seventh and belted his 13th of the season against Tim Mayza in the ninth. It was Buxton’s first career multi-homer game.
Buxton said he was not thinking home run in the ninth.
“Not even close,” he said. “I had no intentions. I just went up there and was trying to have a quality at-bat. (Saturday), I took a few pitches that I could have handled, I felt like early in the game. Today I just said, ‘If they’re going to challenge me with pitches in the zone, be a little bit more aggressive.’”
Gibson was replaced by Trevor Hildenberger with two outs in the seventh. Taylor Rogers replaced Hildenberger with two outs in the eighth. Matt Belisle pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth.
NOTES: Toronto designated LHP T.J. House for assignment to make room on the 25-man roster for RHP Joe Biagini. House appeared in two games for Toronto, allowing three hits and one run in two innings. ... Blue Jays CF Kevin Pillar and RF Jose Bautista did not play in the game. ... Toronto RHP Marcus Stroman (11-6, 3.17 ERA) will face Boston Red Sox LHP Drew Pomeranz (13-4, 3.18) on Monday to open a three-game series at Rogers Centre. ... Minnesota RHP Ervin Santana (13-7, 3.24) will face Chicago White Sox RHP James Shields (2-4, 5.63) on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Target Field.