MINNEAPOLIS -- Byron Buxton's elite speed was on full display in Saturday's 6-5, 10-inning loss to the White Sox, as he scored from first on a stolen-base attempt in the third inning, and made a spectacular running catch in left-center to rob Melky Cabrera of extra bases the next inning.
It started with one out in the third, when Buxton hit a routine grounder to White Sox third baseman Tyler Saladino, but Jose Abreu couldn't handle the throw in the dirt on a close play on what was ruled an error on Saladino.
Buxton promptly stole second and the throw from catcher Dioner Navarro sailed into the outfield. Buxton never hesitated trying to score on the play, catching center fielder J.B. Shuck off-guard after he bobbled the ball. The throw home beat Buxton, but he leaped to avoid the tag as the ball came out of Navarro's glove, giving the White Sox catcher two errors on the play. Buxton, who was surprised to be waived home by third-base coach Gene Glynn reached a max speed of 21 mph running the bases, according to Statcast™.
"I was just being aggressive," Buxton said. "I saw the ball rolling into center field and I just kept going from there. I was slowing down, seeing the center fielder crashing in, but once I saw him wave me on, I tried to kick into gear and get to home plate."
In the fourth, Cabrera lifted a hard-hit fly ball into deep left-center field, but Buxton was able to track it down with a running catch that caused the fans at Target Field to give him a standing ovation. Buxton covered 85 feet, maxing out at 21.7 mph, with a route efficiency of 97.3 percent, per Statcast™.
"I got a really good jump on that ball," Buxton said. "[Left fielder Robbie] Grossman was talking to me the whole time. I had to close in quick and try to catch the ball."
Twins manager Paul Molitor was impressed by both plays, and was surprised to see Buxton come up with the play on Cabrera's hard-hit ball to the gap.
"He's electric using that speed to turn it into a run with just a little bit of a bobble there," Molitor said. "It was exciting. It was certainly a pick-me-up for us. And the catch, I didn't think he had a chance to get there closing in on the wall. That last move was so athletic to be able to extend full speed and somehow corral that ball."
But it wasn't all good for Buxton, as he also could not lay down a sacrifice bunt at a critical point in the ninth, when Danny Santana doubled to open the inning in a tie game. Buxton popped up the bunt in foul territory to Abreu for the first out. Despite loading the bases with two outs, the Twins did not score.
"I work on that everyday so I expect to that get down, especially when they call on me," Buxton said. "I'm going to keep working hard on bunting and get better. That can't happen, especially late in the game after Danny hits a leadoff double. I have to get the bunt down."