LOS ANGELES – The pitch was three or four inches above the strike zone, a 92 mph fastball from Dodgers righthander Tony Gonsolin that Byron Buxton probably shouldn't have been swinging at. C'mon, Buck, what are your hitting coaches going to say?
"Nice swing," Buxton said with a laugh. "At least you didn't chase one in the dirt."
Buxton could joke about that fourth-inning pitch, because he blasted it 425 feet, over the NL bullpen and into a Dodger Stadium restaurant. Even better, his home run provided the tiebreaking — and ultimately game-winning — run in the AL's 3-2 All-Star victory at Dodger Stadium.
"Just amazing," said teammate Luis Arraez, who four innings later, made his own All-Star memory. "He's my brother. He hit that ball, I was so happy, I ran up the dugout."
Buxton said he never dreamed about hitting an All-Star home run, but "if you know you can get to it, it's just a matter of being on point." Arraez, on the other hand, had thought a lot about the scenario that played out exactly as he imagined: a line drive hit so hard, it's past the closest fielder before he can even react.
That's what Arraez produced in the eighth inning, when Cardinals righthander Ryan Helsley left an 83 mph curveball over the middle of the plate. The challenging part of that at-bat, MLB's current batting leader said, was staying alive as Helsley pumped 100 mph-plus fastballs in the zone.
He had already struck out on a checked swing that he disagreed with in the fifth inning against the Reds' Luis Castillo. "So my next at-bat I say, 'I'm not going to strike out. I'm not going to strike out.' "
Then he got down 0-2 again, "and that guy throws me 103 [mph]!" Arraez said. "I said, 'OK, I've got to find this.' And I was ready to fire."
He did, and Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth fell backward trying to get a glove on the screaming line drive. But it was past him before he could do more than deflect it, a typical Arraez single.
Also typical of Arraez: He played more than one position, spending three innings at first base and two more at third.
Both Buxton and Arraez struck out quickly in their first All-Star at-bats, Buxton swinging through a 1-2 fastball from Marlins righthander Sandy Alcantara in the second inning, and Arraez trying to hold up on an 0-2 fastball from Castillo but called out on a checked swing by third-base umpire Will Little.
Arraez's strikeout was decidedly non-typical: Not only was it only the fourth three-pitch strikeout he has absorbed this season, but it came against Castillo, against whom the league's leading hitter is 4-for-4 with three doubles, a single and a walk during their two regular-season meetings.
As for Buxton, "I knew a little bit about Alcantara, just from … well, 'SportsCenter,' " he said. "Didn't knew much about Gonsolin. Both them in the National League, it's a lot tougher because we don't face them, don't know what they've got. So it's going up there and hunting for a pitch to hit."
He got it, back-to-back with the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton, and became the fourth Twin ever to hit a home run in an All-Star Game, joining Harmon Killebrew (who did it three times), Kirby Puckett and Brian Dozier.
"It's a good group," Buxton said. "Just to have my name mentioned with them is pretty impressive."
Byron Buxton became the fourth Twins player ever to hit a home run in an All-Star Game when he slugged a 2-1 pitch from Dodgers righthander Tony Gonsolin into the left-field seats Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
3: Harmon Killebrew, 1961, 1965, 1971
1: Kirby Puckett, 1993
1: Brian Dozier, 2015
1: Byron Buxton, 2022