MINNEAPOLIS -- The outfield walls at Target Field have gotten pummeled on quite a few occasions by Twins center fielder Byron Buxton during his short tenure with Minnesota over the course of several highlight-reel leaping, wall-smashing catches.
Those poor walls got another faceful of Buxton in the 10th inning of Minnesota's 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Friday evening. Buxton raced back to the warning track on a deep fly ball off the bat of Rougned Odor and made a flying catch while crashing into the fence in front of the Texas bullpen to prevent the Rangers from adding to their lead after Ian Desmond's leadoff homer.
"It just kind of kept carrying," Buxton said. "I thought I had a bead on it earlier, and it just kind of kept going, and I just stuck with it. I put my head down at the end to see where the ball was, and I knew I was getting close, so I made a leap for it."
With Prince Fielder on first base following a two-out walk, Odor smacked a 93-mph fastball from Twins reliever Fernando Abad to deep left-center field and appeared to begin a home run trot out of the batter's box.
But Buxton had other ideas. He broke back toward the center-field wall before veering toward left field on the warning track, covering 92.4 feet at a top speed of 17.6 mph, as projected by Statcast™, lunging and making the catch in left-center and smashing into the wall.
"I just really wanted to get us out of the inning," Buxton said. "I just did my best to try to get to the ball and happened to make a good play."
The 22-year-old, who has made 88 appearances in center field for the Twins in parts of two seasons, says that he is starting to get a "pretty good feel" for Target Field's walls and that his growing rapport with fellow outfielders Max Kepler and Robbie Grossman has made him much more comfortable in the space as well.
"I got out there with [outfield instructor] Butch [Davis] and [manager Paul Molitor] and the coaches, and we work on [fly balls at] the wall and stuff like that, so I'm getting better and better every day figuring out how close I am or how far I am," Buxton said.