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Buxton walks it off after Sanó's tying 1B

@dohyoungpark
September 5, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Miguel Sanó and Byron Buxton make contact with the ball, good things tend to happen for the Minnesota Twins. Case in point: Saturday night. The Twins couldn’t get Kenta Maeda a victory after one of his more untouchable outings of the season because Tigers rookie Tarik Skubal

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Miguel Sanó and Byron Buxton make contact with the ball, good things tend to happen for the Minnesota Twins. Case in point: Saturday night.

The Twins couldn’t get Kenta Maeda a victory after one of his more untouchable outings of the season because Tigers rookie Tarik Skubal largely matched his dominant production, but three timely hits from Miguel Sanó made all the difference for the Twins. The big man singled during Minnesota's first run-scoring rally, homered to pull them within one and finally tied the game with an RBI single in the ninth.

That set up the walk-off heroics for the Twins on Byron Buxton’s infield single, which handed Minnesota a 4-3 victory, a five-game winning streak and a temporary share of first place in the American League Central following a two-run surge in the ninth as the Twins again rallied in the final inning to turn defeat into triumph.

Box score

“We felt the energy of the fans,” joked Nelson Cruz. “It was electric. We felt that, and we got it going. The whole dugout was electric. It was great at-bat after great at-bat. It was nice to see everybody do their part."

Josh Donaldson walked to start the Twins’ decisive rally before Cruz hit an infield single off of José Cisnero to give Minnesota some late life. Following a Jake Cave strikeout, Sanó knocked a single through the left side of the infield to tie it up, the Tigers failed to turn an inning-ending double play and Buxton beat out a routine four-hopper to shortstop to win it for the Twins.

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The key after six tough innings from Skubal was, again, simply making contact. Buxton’s legs took care of the rest.

With Cruz standing on third and Eddie Rosario at second, Buxton took off with his head down as soon as bat contacted ball and attained a sprint speed of 31.0 ft./sec as he hit the first-base bag just ahead of Willi Castro’s throw. The Tigers challenged to no avail as the Twins received confirmation of their victory as they celebrated in front of the first-base dugout.

“There’s a lot of things that Buck does that you just don’t see very often on a baseball field, and because of that, even at the big league level, when guys are used to seeing all kinds of impressive things, you do see Buck do things that you don’t see from anyone else,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It’s amazing to watch, and the results speak for themselves.”

They wouldn’t have gotten to that point without Sanó.

The Twins’ first baseman followed Brent Rooker’s fifth-inning knock with a sharp single to right, which allowed the first run to score on Eddie Rosario’s double-play ball. Sanó’s seventh-inning blast off Joe Jiménez traveled an estimated 414 feet and came with some extra theatrics -- a lengthy admiration and a primal scream as Sanó crossed the plate -- as the slugger recalled some choice words by Jiménez following a strikeout last season.

Even after that second-deck shot, Sanó was only focused on making contact to right field when he hit with the tying run on second in the ninth. He got a fastball on the inner half and kept his swing simple, resulting in a grounder to left field that tied the game.

“Miguel has a great mind for the game,” Baldelli said. “He actually has a great plan. He knows what he's trying to do. We know what he's capable of. We know he's capable of hitting the ball as far and as hard as anybody out there. But he can do other things. He goes up there with different approaches in different situations. That's been part of his game, and that's what he did.”

Through factors largely out of Kenta Maeda's control, the Twins have now failed to hand him a win in his two most dominant outings of the season. Saturday night against the Tigers, he retired 18 consecutive batters from the first to the sixth innings and induced 22 swinging strikes, his second-highest total of 2020, but he was bit by a leadoff homer from Victor Reyes and Tyler Clippard allowing two inherited runners to score in the seventh.

Rookie right-hander Jorge Alcala continued his impressive campaign with two shutout innings to earn the victory.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.