A trio of extras from a disappointing Easter for the Twins:
Everyone is looking for signs that Byron Buxton is about to come out of his season-opening slump, and I thought his at-bat leading off the third inning was a good sign: He waited on a 1-0 cutter from James Shields, the only pitcher Buxton has homered off of twice in his career, and drove it deep to left field. I thought it was going out, but it came down on the warning track, and in Willy Garcia’s glove.
Next inning, Buxton came up with the bases loaded — the Twins’ only inning with runners in scoring position all day — and two outs, but he struck out to end the inning. He also walked in the seventh and struck out again in the ninth, but it was another frustrating day for the center fielder, who continues to play stellar defense in the outfield.
Just a month ago, the Twins were confident that Buxton was about to enjoy the breakout season long predicted for him — he looked terrific in spring training. And Miguel Sano was the team’s big worry, looking lost at the plate, flailing at pitches out of the strike zone.
Now, Buxton is in a deep hole and Sano — despite looking a called third strike four different times today — is carrying the offense.
“His at-bats have been quality from the start,” manager Paul Molitor said. “He’s making people work, and it’s helping everybody around him.”
As I just mentioned, the Twins had runners in scoring position only once on Sunday, which is pretty hard to imagine, especially since they had seven hits and four walks. But somehow they could not move runners up. Their official RISP tally: 0-for-1. Buxton’s strikeout.
“We didn’t move runners along when we could,” Molitor understated.
That’s twice in this series that the Twins didn’t get a hit with runners on second or third base. They were 0-for-6 on Friday, and 4-for-16 Saturday. It could be worse, though: Chicago was 0-for-4 on both Friday and Saturday, and 1-for-10 on Sunday. That’s 1-for-18 in the series — and somehow they won two of three!
Ryan Pressly surrendered a leadoff double to Leury Garcia in the 10th inning, a ball that might have been a single but for Danny Santana’s odd route to it, allowing it to get past him. The next batter, Tyler Saladino, laid down a sacrifice bunt that Pressly fielded in front of the mound. He turned to third, cocked his arm … and changed his mind, throwing to first base for the out.
The right play? In Molitor’s judgement, it was.
“It’s a tag play, a lot more difficult than a force play,” he said. “I was glad they took the out there.”
He’s right, it would have been a close play, and Pressly didn’t want to chance making a difficult situation worse.
“I thought about it. I glanced over there, [but] I couldn’t tell if Miggy [Sano] was there or not,” Pressly said. “I didn’t want to take that chance, so I spun around.”
Unfortunately, it didn’t matter, because Avisail Garcia’s home run a few minutes later was all the offense the White Sox needed anyway.