CLEVELAND -- Byron Buxton continues to do it all for the Twins. He set the club record for consecutive stolen bases without getting caught, with 23; made a five-star catch in center field; and gave the Twins an insurance run with an RBI single in the ninth in a crucial 8-6 win over the Indians in the series opener on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
All of that, coupled with a go-ahead three-run home run in the eighth by Brian Dozier, led to the victory that reduced the Twins' magic number to clinch the final postseason berth in the American League to 1. A win over Cleveland on Wednesday or an Angels loss to the White Sox in Chicago would give the Twins their first postseason berth since 2010 and send them to New York or Boston to play the AL Wild Card Game next Tuesday. The Red Sox's magic number to clinch the AL East is 3, and the second-place team, be it New York or Boston, has already secured home-field advantage in the Wild Card Game.
Buxton, who went 2-for-5, singled in the sixth and promptly stole second, breaking Minnesota's previous record of 22 straight stolen bases, set by Matt Lawton (1999-2000) and Chuck Knoblauch (1994). The swipe helped Buxton improve to 28-for-29 in stolen-base opportunities this season.
"It means a lot," Buxton said. "It's a lot of hard work coming from the coaches and people like that. It's something to cherish. But I know I still have to get better over there, pick better counts and stay aggressive."
But Buxton wasn't done showing off his elite speed, robbing Jason Kipnis of a hit in the eighth with a spectacular diving catch in shallow left-center. Buxton needed to cover 56 feet in 3.6 seconds for the play, which had a catch probability of 24 percent and was his third five-star catch of the season, per Statcast™.
"I thought it was going to be in the gap," Buxton said. "Off the bat, it looked like he squared it up. Once it got past the shortstop, I was kind of looking and read it. I didn't want to not make that play, but once I took those first couple steps, I wanted to be aggressive. I knew it was going to be a tough play, and once I heard [Eddie Rosario] say that he had my back, I went for it."
Buxton still wasn't done. With the Twins up by a run after Dozier's homer, Buxton gave Minnesota some breathing room with an RBI single in the ninth.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.