MINNEAPOLIS -- Byron Buxton has announced his presence with authority since returning to the Twins on Thursday.
Minnesota's center fielder homered for the second time in the past three games and knocked out three hits during the Twins' 11-3 victory over the White Sox Saturday night at Target Field. With the setback, the South Siders stand at 1-5 on this seven-game American League Central road trip ahead of Sunday's series finale.
"I think one thing we've seen in the last few days is he's shown a little bit more aggressiveness," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "I think his swing looks a little bit better in terms of quickness and reacting to pitches and recognizing pitches. ... [Chicago starter James] Shields tried to slip a fastball up on him, which some guys would hit in the air, and he was ready."
"There's that stuff in there that they know is there. Defensively, speed all that stuff, is off the charts," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Buxton. "He's shown some power right now. Just being able to put the barrel on it. He doesn't have to put the barrel on it. He has the speed to get a lot of infield hits if he needs to. He has to make contact and right now he's doing it."
Buxton homered in the second to give the Twins a 3-2 advantage. That lead only grew as Minnesota erupted for eight runs in the third off of Shields and reliever Jacob Turner, with all six runs scored off of Turner being unearned. Buxton doubled in that frame, but Miguel Sano and Trevor Plouffe delivered the knockout punches courtesy of a two-run and three-run home run, respectively. Brian Dozier, who had a Major League-high 13 home runs in August, homered to opened Minnesota's first inning for No. 34 this season. Sano homered for the first time in 67 at-bats.
Shields tied Chris Archer with a Major League-worst 17th loss overall, falling to 3-10 with the White Sox. In his 17 White Sox starts, the right-hander has allowed 70 earned runs on 112 hits over 84 innings pitched to go with 26 home runs. Hector Santiago earned the victory against his former team, allowing three runs in six innings with six strikeouts and three walks. He allowed solo homers to Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera.
"Hector overcame a little bit of a shaky start there," Molitor said. "But he settled in. He did a nice job of getting through six innings, especially after a 50-pitch first two innings. A lot of pitches thrown in that game tonight, but we found a way to win a game that was a little bit one-sided, which we haven't done for a while."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Crazy eights: The Twins scored three runs against Shields in the first two innings, but the floodgates really opened in an eight-run third inning. The Twins chased Shields as they sent 13 men to the plate and had 10 consecutive hitters reach base at one point. It was Minnesota's highest-scoring inning of the season.
Sano's two-run shot started the scoring, and the final six runs of the inning were unearned after Todd Frazier was charged with a run-scoring throwing error. The Twins capitalized on the mistake with a two-run double from Jorge Polanco and a three-run homer from Plouffe.
"We did take advantage of some mistakes, and we were able to pile up some pretty good offensive nights from a handful of guys," Molitor said. "It was good to see Byron have another good night. Kepler had a good night. Dozier hits another homer. Plouffe had a homer. Sano took advantage of the 3-0 pitch. We put some runs up."
Getting things started: The White Sox did lead at one point in this contest, as Eaton launched a 1-2 pitch out to right for his fourth leadoff homer this season and the eighth of his career. Eaton sits tied with Alejandro De Aza for third all-time in franchise history with those eight leadoff shots, trailing only Ray Durham's 20 and the nine from Tim Raines.
Santiago's first win as a Twin: Santiago didn't have the easiest transition to his new team, as he lost each of his first four starts with Minnesota while dealing with an injury to his throwing thumb. After taking a promising step forward in his last start, in which he pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings on extended rest, he finally got his first win in a Minnesota uniform on Saturday. He retired 12 of his last 14 batters as he took full advantage of the run support that his offense gifted him.
Santiago said that he struggled a bit with the Twins because he was trying to fix his mechanics to limit his walks and his pitch counts in his first few starts, but he has since returned to the mechanics that he had with the Angels and is starting to feel more comfortable again.
"I think we kind of got away from [the adjustments] now, where we're just like, 'Let's finish the year strong, and go out there and compete, and go into the offseason and start trying to figure that out and work on that when it's a less crazy time,'" Santiago said. "I just went back to do what I was doing in Anaheim."
Pain in the back: Ventura and White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider came out to check on Shields after he walked Plouffe to lead off the third. Shields didn't feel great before the game, and his back tightened up again, but he continued to pitch. The right-hander doesn't think the malady will cost him any time.
"Yeah, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. We all get sore once in awhile, but the third inning in the warm-ups, it kind of grabbed on me a little bit," said Shields, who allowed five runs on five hits in 2 1/3 innings. "It grabbed on me in the last inning there.
"I wasn't feeling too hot before the game, but once the game started getting going, I was fine. Then it just kind of grabbed me in the last inning there in the beginning of the inning in warm-ups and for a couple of pitches there."
"After that, they just laid it on us." -- Ventura, on the Twins' eight-run uprising after he checked on Shields' back in the third
DOZIER GOES DEEP
Dozier is one homer away from becoming the first Twin to hit 35 long balls in a season since Josh Willingham hit 35 in 2012. Harmon Killebrew is the only player in Twins history to hit more than 35 in a season, which he did eight times.
THE STREAK IS OVER Jose Abreu entered Saturday's contest with a streak of 29 straight games reaching base. That streak came to an end with his 0-for-4 showing, although he did fly out deep to center on a 3-1 pitch in the sixth.
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox:Anthony Ranaudo makes his fifth start of the season and fourth on the road in the finale of this four-game series at Target Field at 1:10 p.m. CT. With Miguel Gonzalez coming back from the disabled list next week, it's uncertain when Ranaudo's next start will come after this one.
Twins: Left-hander Andrew Albers will make his second start and fourth appearance of the season on Sunday afternoon against the White Sox. He only lasted two innings in his last start, allowing four runs on six hits to the Indians, but he didn't factor into the decision. He last faced the White Sox on Aug. 17, 2013.