DETROIT — A couple of extras from the Twins’ fifth walk-off loss of the season:
Byron Buxton had one thought as the baseball soared toward right-center field Saturday night: Triple.
“I was thinking triple, definitely. That triangle out there, it’s a big gap,” Buxton said of his fourth-inning shot off Jordan Zimmermann. “I was definitely not thinking home run. … In-the-park, maybe.”
He might have made it; Buxton was already rounding second base when the ball ricocheted off the yellow line at the top of the wall, and into the stands. He was standing on third base by the time umpire Scott Barry signaled home run. So Buxton trotted home from third in roughly the same amount of time it took him to blaze through the first three bases.
“I was trying to see where it went, but I didn’t dare slow down,” he said of one of the fastest home run trots in history.
It was Buxton’s sixth homer of the season, but first since the Fourth of July, and it was a nice payoff, he said, for the work he’s been doing with hitting coach James Rowson.
“I did some work in the cage,” he said. “Kind of got myself back on track, letting the ball travel to me a little more” before swinging.
It must be working. Buxton is batting .379 over his last 18 games.
Joe Mauer went to the plate in the ninth inning with runners on second and third, having already driven in five runs, the most he’s had in a game since 2010. He really would have liked to add two more RBIs, but Shane Greene wasn’t about to allow it.
Greene threw only one pitch in the strike zone, instead brushing Mauer back with his other four pitches, all at least a foot inside.
“In those situations, you try not to do too much. He was trying to see if I would chase inside a little bit,” Mauer said of his 51st walk of the season. “He’s got nasty stuff, and he had a base open, so he was allowed to do that. And with [Miguel] Sano up next in that situation, I liked our chances.”
It didn’t pan out, though; Greene got Sano to swing at a low slider, ending the bases-loaded threat with a strikeout.
Still, it was a great night for Mauer, whose last game with five or more RBI came on July 26, 2010. And like Buxton, he also homered for the first time since early July, smacking a two-run shot in the sixth inning off Edward Mujica.
“The homer felt pretty good,” Mauer admitted. “I mean, the [bases-loaded] double did too, but I knew I hit the homer pretty good. Felt like it had a chance to get going.”
Mauer’s contributions didn’t end there. The first baseman plucked a Justin Upton popup out of the stands in the fourth inning, and then ran 50 feet down the right field line to make an over-the-shoulder catch of a James McCann popup a couple of innings later.