DETROIT -- It was a game of firsts for a trio of top prospects for the Twins, as Byron Buxton connected on his first Major League homer, Miguel Sano hit his first career triple and Max Kepler made his MLB debut in a 7-1 win over the Tigers on Sunday at Comerica Park.
With the Twins still in the thick of the race for the second American League Wild Card spot, Buxton has seen his playing time dwindle recently with Minnesota opting to use an outfield of Eddie Rosario, Aaron Hicks and Torii Hunter. But Buxton made the most of his start against the Tigers on Sunday, as he went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and his first career homer.
Buxton, ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, connected on his RBI double off veteran lefty Randy Wolf as part of a six-run second inning before crushing a towering solo shot off right-handed reliever Jose Valdez in the eighth.
"Before I went out there, [catcher Kurt] Suzuki just told me to go out there and get my first one," Buxton said. "So I tried to get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it, and that's what happened. When you make contact like that, you barely even feel it with a perfect swing. So I'm just glad I got it out of the way."
Buxton, 21, showed power in the Minors with 28 homers and a .489 slugging percentage in 276 career games. He's struggled in his first taste of the Majors, hitting .207/.244/.306 in 41 games, but his impressive showing on Sunday could be a sign of things to come for the top prospect.
Sano, 22, entered with 17 homers and 16 doubles in 72 games with the Twins, but he picked up his first triple with two outs in the ninth off veteran lefty Tom Gorzelanny. It was a good sign from Sano, who has been bothered by a mild hamstring strain this month.
"I don't know what the odds were higher on -- Buxton's first homer or Sano's first triple -- but we got them both out of the way," Twins manager Paul Molitor said with a smile. "And how many times did [Sano] slip? He tried to stop and then he started to go. So he leaves a trail. But he found his way there, which was good."
Sano's triple kept the inning alive and opened the door for Kepler, 22, to make his debut as a pinch-hitter with two outs in the ninth. Kepler, ranked as the No. 98 overall prospect by MLBPipleine.com, struck out on a slider from Gorzelanny. Kepler, who hails from Berlin, became the 43rd German native to have an at-bat in the Majors and said he still relished the experience despite the result.
"It was awesome," Kepler said. "It felt great. I was kind of expecting to face a lefty my first at-bat and saw the ball really well but was really swing-happy. But it was awesome."