When Twins center fielder Byron Buxton is healthy, it’s easy to feel that all is right with the world.
Buxton doubled, homered, scored a run and drove in two more on Saturday, reminding everyone that when he is injury-free he makes the game of baseball seem pretty effortless. He also made a nice play in the field (and lost a ball in the sun as well) in what eventually turned out to be an 8-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Outfielder Alex Kirilloff also appears to have recovered well from wrist surgery. He went 2-for-3 with a double to push his spring average to .364. Buxton is hitting .357.
The pitching wasn’t as sharp on Saturday.
Chi Chi Gonzalez, who got the start, signed a minor league deal with the Twins in the offseason, but I’m not exactly sure what the Twins see in him. Over five seasons, he is 9-23 with a 5.64 ERA, and he struggled again in his second appearance this spring.
Over three innings, Gonzalez allowed four runs, all earned, with four walks and three strikeouts. He exited with no decision because the Twins rallied for four runs in the fifth and then gave it away in the seventh.
The loss fell to Steven Cruz, who didn’t pitch that poorly. He struck out three in two-thirds of an inning, but he also served up a home run, walked two and was hurt by a passed ball allowed by catcher David Banuelos. Banuelos completely whiffed on one of Cruz’s pitches and the ball smashed directly into the home plate umpire’s mask. The ump was stunned, but stayed in the game.
Although Cruz lost, he allowed only one earned run because of the error.
-One thing the Twins might like about Gonzalez is a career ground ball rate of better than 40 percent.
-If the Twins have accomplished anything this year, they most likely have set a record for the number of guys in camp who spell their first name “Jh.”
To wit: Jharel Cotton, Jhoan Duran and Jhon Romero.
On a more serious note, it hasn’t been an easy road to the majors for Cotton, the Star Tribune reports.