Eight-run third inning propels Twins to 11-3 win over White Sox
MINNEAPOLIS -- There's still plenty of time for Byron Buxton to master the majors.
His most recent stint with Minnesota has sure started strong.
Miguel Sano and Trevor Plouffe each homered during an eight-run third inning, Buxton hit a two-run shot and the Twins went deep four times in an 11-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night.
Buxton is 6 for 10 with five runs, five RBIs and two homers without a strikeout in three games since his latest call-up from Triple-A. The second overall pick in the 2012 draft has raised his batting average 20 points to .213.
"Just going up there and having fun, not pressing, not thinking about anything," Buxton said, "just going up there and letting my ability take over."
The 22-year-old has elite speed and defense, but until this weekend he's been mostly been overmatched in 336 career at-bats.
"It's a lot to throw at a young kid, and he's just continued to try to find ways to be successful up here," manager Paul Molitor said.
Buxton went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles to go with his soaring home run in the second inning against beleaguered starter James Shields (5-17).
"I try to get higher," Shields said, "but I didn't get it up enough."
Brian Dozier led off with his 34th homer. The Twins have 162 homers with 26 games to go, the most they've hit in six years with a pace to post their highest total since their championship season in 1987.
Max Kepler had two doubles among his three hits and Dozier stole two bases, helping build an 11-2 lead for Hector Santiago to take into the fourth.
Santiago (11-8) won for the first time in six starts since the Twins acquired him in late July from the Los Angeles Angels, finishing six innings with three runs allowed and six strikeouts.
Santiago was coming off his best performance with Minnesota -- 6 1/3 scoreless innings at Cleveland. The left-hander cruised through this one after allowing a leadoff home run to Adam Eaton.
"I definitely feel like I got stronger tonight as the game went on," Santiago said.
Shields -- also a midseason acquisition -- kept on struggling. Shipped east by the San Diego Padres in early June, he is 3-10 in 17 starts for the White Sox. Shields has a 7.50 ERA with his new club, averaging exactly five innings per turn.
Shields was checked by a team athletic trainer following a leadoff walk to Plouffe in the third and pulled with one out. He was charged with five runs after giving up four walks and five hits, including a two-run smash by Sano that landed in the third deck above left field. The White Sox needed two more relievers to finish the inning, capped by a three-run shot by Plouffe.
Shields experienced some tightness in his back after leaving the game.
"I know he can pitch better than that," manager Robin Ventura said. "But these guys on the other side, they've hit a lot of homers against us."
With Eaton and Dozier going deep, this was the fourth time in the majors this season that both leadoff batters homered. Dozier has 16 career leadoff homers, the second-most in club history behind Jacque Jones (20). Since the All-Star break, Dozier leads the league in home runs (20), extra-base hits (37) and runs (41).
"He's just not missing many pitches. He's on a quite tear," Molitor said.
The Twins recalled catcher John Ryan Murphy from Triple-A Rochester, a chance for him to improve upon the 3-for-40 start to the season that prompted his demotion. Acquired from the New York Yankees for outfielder Aaron Hicks in a winter trade, Murphy hit .236 with 39 RBIs in 83 games for Rochester.
White Sox: Rookie SS Tim Anderson returned to the lineup after a day off for a bruised right calf muscle.
Twins: RHP Trevor May (back) and LHP Tommy Milone (biceps) threw in the bullpen before the game and are set to face live batters in a session on Tuesday.
The White Sox will send RHP Anthony Ranaudo (1-1, 8.76 ERA) to the mound on Sunday for the finale of the four-game series, with LHP Andrew Albers (0-0, 6.97 ERA) set to take the mound for the Twins. Ranaudo will make his fifth start. Albers finished only two innings in his previous turn earlier this week.