A trio of extras after the Twins’ third loss in four games:
Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano didn’t get to take part in the Twins’ record-breaking offensive eruption on Tuesday, so they made sure to add a postscript a day later.
Out of the lineup for Minnesota’s 28-hit extravaganza, Buxton returned Wednesday and doubled, homered, walked and singled, reaching base four times for the first time in his career. It was also his second three-hit game of 2017, and included his second home run in four days.
“You have those nights. I was feeling pretty good today,” said Buxton, whose batting average reached a season-high .213. “Cage work went pretty good, so I knew it was going to be a good day.”
The first seven Twins batters of the game had grounded out when Buxton came up in the third inning, and he immediately broke up Sam Gaviglio’s no-hitter with a double down the left field line. He homered during his next at-bat. That he was able to hit a chopper in the ninth inning may have been his best feat of the night, considering how Seattle closer Edwin Diaz was throwing. The pitch he hit was an 89-mph slider, and he beat the play without a throw.
Sano, who sat out Tuesday’s game as a mental and physical break, reached for a first-pitch slider and pulled it into the bleachers in the sixth inning, a two-run shot that gives him 16 for the year.
Diaz was summoned with two runners on base in the eighth inning, only the second time in his career he was given a chance to earn a four-out save. He wasted no time taking advantage, in a couple of big situations. Diaz mowed down Kennys Vargas on three pitches, all fastballs that reached 99 or 100 mph.
In the ninth, he walked Jason Castro with one out, then gave up Buxton’s chopper on a slider. That brought up Eddie Rosario, and again Diaz needed only three pitches. Rosario struck out on a 90-mph slider, immediately after a 99-mph fastball.
“He’s got the stuff to close, that’s evident. But he’s one of those guys you feel you might have a chance if you can make him work a little bit and throw pitches,” Molitor said. “Vargas saw three nasty pitches. Rosie had a slider-fastball-slider combination. He’s got pitches.”
It probably didn’t take long for the Twins to figure out that Ervin Santana wasn’t at his best. Five pitches into the game, Mitch Haniger homered. And that’s a big tell for Santana.
The Twins’ ace gave up two home runs, and now has allowed 13 this season. Only two have come in games Santana won, and both were in April. When Santana’s not sharp — which isn’t often this year — the ball goes a long way.
“His slider wasn’t sharp,” Molitor said. “In some of the other home run games that he’s had, the slider is the pitch that people have been able to elevate and get out when he leaves it in the middle.”