BALTIMORE — A trio of extras from another Ervin Santana extravaganza:
— Byron Buxton drove in the game-winning run on Tuesday, but he wasn’t on base for long. When Robbie Grossman lifted a shallow fly ball to center, Buxton was stuck halfway between first and second base, trying to figure out whether it would drop.
Adam Jones came racing in and looked like he might make a running grab. But it was just a fake — the ball short-hopped Jones’ glove, and he quickly tossed the ball to second base, turning Grossman’s apparent base hit into a force out instead.
Does Buxton think Jones was trying to fool him? “Probably so,” Buxton said. “The way he went after the ball, it definitely looked like he was going to catch it. I thought if I kept going [to second], he would have doubled me off at first.”
Still, Buxton was happy he came through with a critical hit through Baltimore’s drawn-in infield. “I just went up and didn’t try to do too much, just pick up the runner from third,” he said. “Got a good pitch and was able to put one through the hole.”
Paul Molitor said he doesn’t know what it’s like to face Ervin Santana, but he figures it’s a lot harder than it looks. Santana’s fastball, he said, rarely looks the same twice in an at-bat.
“The fact that he somewhat subtly changes speeds on his fastball” is particularly effective, the Twins manager said. “He’ll paint at 90, 91 [mph], and then elevate at 93, 94. It might not seem that significant, but he knows when he needs to reach back and elevate. He doesn’t blow people away, but he gets strikeouts when he puts it in a good spot.”
Santana got five strikeouts on Tuesday, which is about three more than the number of hard-hit balls the Orioles managed.
They didn’t figure into the outcome, but Kennys Vargas had a pair of doubles off Dylan Bundy, the first time this season he’s had two extra-base hits in a game. And the best part: Both were a result of Vargas’ hustle — and, to hear him tell it, his speed.
“Run, run, run,” Vargas laughed after the game. “Speedy guy.”
He looped an outside pitch inside the left-field line in the second inning, and left fielder Trey Mancini was shifted toward center, so Vargas calculated he could get to second. He did, easily.
And in the sixth inning, Vargas pulled a pitch and lined it past first baseman Chris Davis. Again, he figured right fielder Seth Smith would take some time getting to the corner, so he gambled and won.
“Sometimes outfielders see a big guy, they don’t think we’ll go,” Vargas said. “That’s when — zoom!”