See more of the story

Byron Buxton wondered what it was like. Now he knows.

"That was so cold," the Twins' top slugger said. "I don't think I'd do it again. But it was fun."

Don't worry, he doesn't mean he will stop hitting walkoff homers, something he's now done twice this season and three times in his career. He means he won't stand on home plate while his teammates pour a bucket of ice water over him, as he did in the wild scrum following the 3-2 victory over the Orioles he delivered at Target Field.

"I got to kind of experience what it's like," Buxton said. "Usually it's bubble gum or Skittles."

The Twins will probably allow him to dictate the terms of whatever celebration he likes, so long as he regularly rescues them from another sluggish offensive night. Minnesota strung together three hits and a walk in the first inning, and two more in the ninth. In between? An amazing 21 consecutive outs, and by all appearances, the Twins' third time scoring one or fewer runs in their last five home games.

But Luis Arraez and Buxton changed all that. Facing Orioles closer Jorge Lopez, Arraez worked a nine-pitch at-bat, finally grounding a pitch up the middle and into center field.

"It helps a lot," Buxton said. "When he's having an at-bat like that in front of you, fouling off great pitches, it got me going. It got me locked in."

He wasn't thinking home run, though — even if the fireworks-night crowd of 25,540 definitely was — especially after taking a strike and then fouling a pitch off. He ducked out of the way of a high slider, then zeroed in on Lopez's 1-2 pitch, a slider over the heart of the plate.

"I'm just trying to put something in play, especially with having a few tough at-bats prior to the game," Buxton said. "With his sinker, I didn't want to roll into a double play, so I had to get that out of my head."

When the ball landed, 399 feet away, Buxton pounded his chest as he circled the bases, his teammates ready to soak him with water in celebration. After losing back-to-back games in walkoff fashion, the Twins got to celebrate winning one, and keeping their place atop the AL Central, now by 1½ games after the Guardians' home game with the Yankees was rained out.

"That was the big kind of exclamation point we've been looking for," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "We've been grinding real hard this week, played some pretty good competitive baseball, and didn't do enough to get over the hump. This is different. This is just fantastic."

Also fantastic: The seven innings provided by Joe Ryan, who gave up only two hits over seven innings. One of the hits, Cedric Mullins' third-inning double, was costly, since it followed Ryan's lone walk, to ninth-place hitter Jorge Mateo, who scored from first base without a throw. Though Ryan retired the final 11 hitters he faced, he left with the score tied 1-1.

"He's been a workhorse," Baldelli said of the rookie righthander.

But the tie game quickly became a 2-1 deficit when Ryan left. Orioles outfielder Ryan McKenna greeted reliever Caleb Thielbar with a double into the left-field corner to lead off the eighth inning, and advanced to third on Jonathan Arauz's groundout.

The Twins, clearly cognizant of their recurring offensive constipation, brought the infield in to cut off McKenna's chances of scoring the tiebreaking run, a strategy that appeared to pay off when shortstop Mateo hit a sharp ground ball to second baseman Jorge Polanco's left.

But after fielding the ball, Polanco threw it into the dirt just up the third-base line, right into McKenna's slide, preventing catcher Gary Sanchez — playing after Ryan Jeffers suffered a bruised right thumb — from reaching it. McKenna scored as the ball squirted to the backstop.

All that, though, merely set up Buxton's latest heroics. And his cold shower.