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Buxton sparks 5-run frame, as Twins snap skid

September 1, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins center fielder Byron Buxton didn't even arrive in the Twins' clubhouse until less than four hours before first pitch after his recall from Triple-A Rochester on Thursday. His car got a flat tire on his way to the airport, and he had to walk three miles to

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins center fielder Byron Buxton didn't even arrive in the Twins' clubhouse until less than four hours before first pitch after his recall from Triple-A Rochester on Thursday. His car got a flat tire on his way to the airport, and he had to walk three miles to get it serviced.
The Twins are lucky that Buxton got back to Minneapolis in time, because he swatted a three-run homer that capped a five-run rally in the second inning, putting Minnesota ahead for good, as they topped the White Sox, 8-5, on Thursday night at Target Field, finally snapping a season-high 13-game losing streak.
"It wasn't easy," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "It was a long game, a tough game. Not surprisingly, we broke the streak with Ervin [Santana] on the mound, even though he had to fight. ... It's a relief. We know we can't enjoy these things very long."
Trevor Plouffe also hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning as the Twins tagged White Sox left-hander José Quintana, the American League ERA leader, for a season-high seven earned runs in five innings. It snapped a streak of eight quality starts by Quintana and was his shortest outing since June 5.

"They got him in the second there," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It seemed like everything he left over the plate they put a good swing on. They got something going, then the homer. He settled down somewhat after that but the pitch count was starting to get up and took it all out of him."
"When you give up two more runs after you retire 10 batters straight, it's a bad one," said Quintana, referring to Plouffe's home run. "It was a bad night for me. I'll turn the page, and that's it. I'll try to just keep going with the next one."
Quintana endures rare shaky outing
Twins right-hander Ervin Santana got hit hard by the White Sox, but was able to limit the damage to two runs in five innings, despite allowing a season-high 11 hits. Although the White Sox chipped away at the Twins' bullpen, adding two in the sixth on José Abreu's 20th homer of the season and another run in the eighth on an RBI double by Carlos Sanchez, they were unable to complete the comeback as they extended their losing streak to four games.

"It's tough, but at the same time, you don't think about it," Santana said. "You just try to make a good pitch, because when you don't have your good stuff, that's where you have to battle and show what you've got."
Sanchez had entered the game in the fourth inning after starting shortstop Tim Anderson exited with a bruised right calf after getting hit by a line drive in the first inning. Anderson is day to day.

Buxton is back: The Twins' center fielder, who had homered in four straight games with Triple-A Rochester a week ago, made his presence felt immediately with a three-run homer in the second inning in his first Major League at-bat since Aug. 5. It was only the second homer of the season for Buxton, who entered the game hitting .193/.247/.315 in 63 games this season with the Twins. The homer traveled a Statcast-estimated 388 feet into the second deck in left field.
"You want to argue you want to see the consistent contact, a guy that finds a way to get on base and utilize his speed," Molitor said. "But we'll take the homers when they come, especially on a night like tonight, a big three-run homer for him." More >

Beware of Abreu: After hitting .362 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in August, Abreu picked up where he left off to start September. The White Sox first baseman had three hits, including a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth, raising his consecutive-games streak of reaching base to 28, which is currently highest in the Majors and extends his career-best streak. Abreu has eight hits in 17 at-bats during the first four games of this road trip.

Santana survives: The bats weren't really the problem in Minnesota's extended losing streak, as the Twins actually had their best month of the season at the plate in August. Rather, it had been the shaky pitching staff that led to the prolonged woes. Santana was able to turn that around Thursday, as he worked five innings, despite not having his best stuff, and kept the Twins in the game by stranding 10 White Sox runners. He finished his outing by striking out two hitters and inducing a groundout to work out of a first-and-second, no-out jam in the fifth.
"He's had some better games," Molitor said. "I don't know if he's ever had to fight harder to get a win. You look up there at one point, and they have 10 left on base and we have zero. That was the big difference. He pitched out of jams." More >

Welcome to the show:Juan Minaya and Kevan Smith, who were recalled from Triple-A Charlotte prior to Thursday's contest, made their Major League debuts on the same day. Minaya worked the eighth inning, with Smith behind the plate, and struck out one during a scoreless frame. Smith ended the inning by throwing out Jorge Polanco trying to steal. Smith lined out to center in his first career at-bat with one out in the ninth. More >
"Fortunately Minaya got his first strikeout and I got my first throw out at the same time. Certainly an exciting and memorable moment," said Smith, who was thrilled with the debut, but disappointed with the team's loss. "We just got in this afternoon. I thought [Ventura] was just going to let us get our bearings, but I kind of like what he did.
"He kind of throws in there in the mix. Just kind of gets some nerves out of the way and just let's us go and play. Obviously I've been working with [Minaya] for the past two months in Charlotte, and after he gets his jitters out, he started getting in on the zone and it was productive. That's what we like to see."

"Not to get overly philosophical, but adversity is part of life. The most learned times are when you have to deal with things that don't go your way. It's true in sport; it's true off the field. You find out more about character and those types of things when you have to endure difficulties. I hope these guys come out better for it, maybe not today or tomorrow, but somewhere down the road, that they're going to have something to tap into." -- Molitor, on snapping the losing streak
"I thought they were joking with me in the bullpen. I knew Minaya was going in. They were kind of smirking and laughing and I wasn't too sure and they said, 'Hey, you better get going,' and I wasn't too sure what happened. But I felt comfortable as ever out there. I didn't feel out of place. [Home-plate umpire Greg Gibson] behind the plate said, 'You look comfortable as ever.' That was a little confidence booster." -- Smith
After the White Sox took the lead in the second inning on Frazier's homer, they added a pair of two-out singles from Tyler Saladino and Adam Eaton. On Eaton's single, a soft line drive into left-center, Saladino attempted to take third base, and left fielder Eddie Rosario's throw to third was not in time. The Twins challenged the play, and the safe call stood after a review.

In the fourth inning, Max Kepler hit an 0-2 fastball from Quintana into the right-field seats, but first-base umpire Dana DeMuth ruled the ball was foul. A crew-chief review confirmed the call on the field of a foul ball. Kepler struck out looking two pitches later. It would have been his second homer in as many days.

Todd Frazier, who homered earlier in the game, was ruled out on a slow roller to first to lead off the ninth. White Sox manager Robin Ventura challenged the call, and video replay overturned the call to give Frazier a second hit.

White Sox:Carlos Rodón goes for his fourth straight victory, which would be a career-high, as he takes the mound Friday night at Target Field with a first pitch of 7:10 p.m. CT. Rodon's has put together five straight quality starts, with his last non-quality start coming in Target Field on July 31.
Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson (5-8, 5.17 ERA) has loved facing the White Sox in his career, as he owns a 5-1 record and 1.80 ERA against Chicago in eight career starts. He will take the mound on Friday night for the Twins after allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Blue Jays in his last start.
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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for based in Minneapolis.