HOUSTON – Byron Buxton kneeled over second base in disbelief. He looked at umpire Ed Hickox, who had made the call. He looked at Carlos Correa, who had applied the tag. He stayed there for 30 seconds, waiting for the Twins’ video review to tell him it wasn’t true, it couldn’t be true.
But it was. Buxton jogged back to the Twins’ dugout, caught stealing for the first time in nearly two years, his franchise-record streak of 33 straight successful steal attempts finally finished.
“It takes a lot of things to go right to throw him out,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “I don’t think we’re going to see it [again] — knock on wood — but with just how good he is at it, when you do see it happen, the pitcher has to be pretty quick to the plate. The catcher has to make a good throw. It has to be right there. Everything has to go right.”
It did for Astros pitcher Chris Devenski and catcher Robinson Chirinos, who hit Correa right in the glove as he waited at the bag. Buxton slid in headfirst, but Correa slapped the tag on him a split-second earlier.
Buxton hadn’t been caught since May 23, 2017, in Baltimore, when he actually stole the base but overslid and was tagged out. He passed the Twins’ record of 22 straight, set by Matt Lawton in 2000, later in 2017, then attempted only four steals during 2018. He was 4-for-4 this year, until Monday.
“That’s a pretty incredible streak. I’ve never heard of a streak like that,” Baldelli said. “It’s an opportunity for him to smile and all of us to kind of acknowledge what an impressive feat it is that he’s accomplishing.”
And keep running, right?
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he started a new streak tomorrow,” the manager said. “We’re going to continue to let him put pressure on the defense and make his own decisions out there and let him do his thing.”
The Twins needed the bullpen for only nine innings in Baltimore, and two were pitched by Fernando Romero, the 26th man in Saturday’s doubleheader. But the light usage hasn’t added much clarity to the decision over who will start Wednesday’s game in Houston, Baldelli said. “We have several candidates,” he said, for the fill-in start, made necessary by Friday’s rainout.
One of them is probably righthander Zack Littell, who is scheduled to start Wednesday for Class AAA Rochester. And Baldelli didn’t rule out the possibility of making it a “bullpen game,” a prospect made more likely by Thursday’s day off.
• The Astros played a two-minute tribute video to honor Marwin Gonzalez before Monday’s game, with the large crowd giving a standing ovation as the ex-Astro waved from in front of the dugout.
• Max Kepler and Blake Parker, sidelined by the flu in Baltimore, were cleared to play Sunday, Baldelli said, but he wanted to wait a day to make sure. Kepler was back atop the lineup Monday.
• Lefthander Gabriel Moya, who appeared in two games for Class AA Pensacola, will continue his rehab from a shoulder strain at Class AAA Rochester, the Twins announced. Moya has allowed three hits in 1⅔ innings but no runs.