Buxton caught stealing as tying run in 8th one of multiple opportunities left unfulfilled
By David Cobb
ST. LOUIS -- With one out and the Twins needing a run to tie the game in the eighth inning, a wet stage was set for Byron Buxton to steal his first Major League base on Tuesday against the Cardinals. It's a feat that will have to wait until Minnesota returns to Target Field for an eight-game homestand that begins Wednesday.
St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina threw Buxton out with relative ease, breaking up one of Minnesota's several late-game scoring opportunities and helping the Cardinals hang on for their second 3-2 win at Busch Stadium in as many days and handing the Twins their seventh loss in eight games. The club is seeking its first win against St. Louis since 2009.
"It's a tough loss, because we had our chances there," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
The game's two 40-plus-minute rain delays affected the Twins in opposite ways, the first playing to the advantage of Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, who gave up a first-inning run but retired 11 hitters in a row after a 45-minute delay.
Minnesota's long-dormant bats, however, came alive for a moment in the seventh, when Kurt Suzuki doubled for the first time since May 26 on the third pitch he saw after a 47-minute rain delay to score Eduardo Nunez and make it 3-2.
Suzuki advanced to third on a one-out wild pitch, but pinch-hitter Eddie Rosario's popup to third and Kennys Vargas' groundout to second left Suzuki stranded.
Buxton reached on an infield single that Cardinals reliever Matt Belisle deflected with a behind-the-back swipe to lead off the eighth, and he took off on the first pitch to Torii Hunter but was tagged out as he dove headfirst into second. Hunter then proceeded to stroke a two-out single before Joe Mauer flied out to end the inning.
Molitor declined to say if he felt Buxton got a good jump on the pitch.
"We're trying to find a way to get him into scoring position there," Molitor said. "Their guy was very quick to home, and we were trying to figure out a way to get him into scoring position, and it didn't work out."
The ninth brought an additional dosage of frustration. Nunez narrowly missed a game-tying homer when he stroked a one-out double to the wall in left. But just like in the seventh, the Twins stranded a man in scoring position with less than two outs.
The Twins are winners in just four of their last 15 games.
"We had a bad road trip, but at the same time, it's not like we're getting too down," said second baseman Brian Dozier, who singled and scored in the first inning. "We've put ourselves in a really good spot, to where when you go through slumps like this it doesn't affect us as much as it has been.
"We do need to turn things around and get back on the winning ways."
David Cobb is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.