After Tuesday’s 2-for-3 performance – which included a triple – in his rehab assignment with the St. Paul Saints, Twins outfielder Byron Buxton said his putter was still “a little bit wrong.” “
Whatever he was looking for, he found it Thursday night.
Buxton hit a two-run home run at the bottom of the first and another two-run bomb at the bottom of the second. He was the only bright spot in the Saints’ dismal performance when they went down 16-9 to the Omaha Storm Chasers at CHS Field.
“There aren’t many people who a little bit outside can do the things he does,” said Saints manager Toby Gardenhire. “…He’s swinging the bat well, he hit three balls. I thought he had that last one. “
Buxton nearly hit his third home run with the same number of hits from the bottom of the fourth, driving a ball into deep left center field that got caught in the warning lane right in front of the 402 foot signal. Buxton even received credit for a sacrificial fly. It was the last time Buxton saw the plaque as he went out for a hitter at the top of the sixth. He finished 2 on 2 with five RBIs.
Recovering from a Grade 2 hip injury that has left him sidelined since May 6, Buxton also returned to the field on Thursday. He looked comfortable there, even registering an outside assist early in the first inning when he kicked out a runner trying to advance to the third.
He made several good catches looking straight at the sun and, crucially, avoided jumping off the center field wall in the fourth inning, rather than allowing the ball to drop to a double.
“I was completely happy with him pulling that thing,” Gardenhire said after the game. “We all saw him hit the walls. We don’t need guys hitting the walls. We need him on the playing field. ”
Despite his strong attacking performance and the Twins’ Alex Kiriloff outfield sprained his ankle during Minnesota’s 7-5 victory over the Yankees on Thursday night, Buxton will likely stay in St. Paul for now.
Twins coach Rocco Baldelli said earlier this week that he would like to see Buxton play at least two matches on the field before returning, and Gardenhire reiterated that after the game.
“I’ve been wrong before, but I think they will still try to make it progress slowly. I know it’s hard with Kirilloff rolling his ankle and the guy hitting two home runs – “We want to get him out of there.” – I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not. We’ll just have to see it,” he said.
The only other fireworks for Santos came from the bat of Keon Broxton, who made a two-run home run at the bottom of the second, his first home run of the season.
Charlie Shepard fought on the hill for the Saints, giving up five races in the first inning and another five races in the second. He managed just 3 ⅔ innings, allowing 11 runs in 14 hits and four walks. In his four previous matches, he has allowed just seven runs combined.