MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With ballyhooed rookie Byron Buxton at the top of their lineup, the Minnesota Twins have been unbeatable.
Well, at least for his first time batting first, when the offense couldn’t have been much better.
Kennys Vargas went 4 for 4 with a three-run homer and four RBIs, Buxton had three hits as the leadoff man Monday night and the Twins trounced the Chicago White Sox 13-2.
“It’s got to feel good for him,” said manager Paul Molitor, who didn’t commit to keeping Buxton in the top spot.
Joe Mauer homered to start a five-run fourth against John Danks (3-8), and Eduardo Nunez punctuated that inning with a two-out, two-run shot. The rally was fueled by a throwing error on shortstop Alexei Ramirez, whose attempt to start a double play sailed into right field.
Brian Dozier added a two-run homer in the eighth for the Twins, who are 8-3 against the White Sox this season while outscoring them 70-28.
“Just to have an outbreak like that, that was pretty cool,” said Torii Hunter, who drove in Buxton with a two-run double during a five-run sixth inning after the lanky, 21-year-old speedster beat out a routine grounder to Ramirez for a hit.
Buxton moved up from ninth to first in the order in his ninth major league game and doubled in his first at-bat with a headfirst slide into second base.
“If he can keep that going and have good at-bats like he did today? No doubt, he’s not going anywhere,” Hunter said.
Buxton scored three runs.
“It means a lot. I’m just glad Mollie had that much faith in me to put me in the leadoff spot. I just went out there and relaxed and had fun,” Buxton said.
Buxton also gave starter Tommy Milone (4-1) a lift by ending the third inning with a strong throw home from center field. The ball sailed a bit high but went straight to catcher Kurt Suzuki’s mitt to keep Melky Cabrera from scoring on a single. The White Sox had taken a 2-1 lead on Adam LaRoche’s two-run single.
“That’s huge. Obviously we know what he’s capable of. All tools, all aspects of what he does are good,” said Milone, who hasn’t lost in four starts this month, allowing a total of seven earned runs.
Danks fell to 0-4 in June with a 6.85 ERA.
“I stunk. There’s really no other way to put it,” said Danks, who dropped to 3-9 with a 6.82 ERA in 16 career starts against the Twins.
The White Sox started their nine-game trip in a rough way, falling to 2-11 on the road against AL Central foes.
“You tip the cap to them, and you move on,” manager Robin Ventura said. “They just outplayed us.”
The White Sox have been outscored 58-19 in the first inning this year, both totals the worst in the majors. This was their ninth straight game with three runs or fewer, their longest such streak since 10 in a row in 1976.
The Twins were in a scoring slide, too, with 55 runs in their first 20 games this month. This will help their average.
“It’s amazing what a couple hits can do in terms of how you feel at the plate,” Molitor said.
DARRYL HAMILTON’S DEATH
Ventura and Molitor were both teammates of outfielder Darryl Hamilton, who was murdered Sunday in suburban Houston, according to authorities. The 50-year-old Hamilton played with Molitor for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1988-92 and with Ventura for the New York Mets from 1999-2001.
Molitor described the shock of hearing the news and said Hamilton’s death was “the overriding thing” on his mind Monday.
Said Ventura: “I’m still sick to my stomach. He’s a great person. I loved Darryl Hamilton.”
White Sox: The injury-thinned bullpen is close to being back to full strength. LHP Dan Jennings, on the DL for the last two weeks because of inflammation in his neck, was sent on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Charlotte. RHP Matt Albers, who broke the pinkie on his pitching hand during the April 23 fight with the Kansas City Royals, will throw a simulated game Tuesday.
Twins: Hunter was hit in the chest by Cabrera’s throw from left field as he retreated to third base on a shallow fly, but he was all right.
Jeff Samardzija (4-4, 4.67 ERA) will start for the White Sox on Tuesday, his third appearance against the Twins this season. Mike Pelfrey (5-3, 2.97) takes the mound for Minnesota, also for the third time this year against the White Sox.
© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.