KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s funny, manager Rocco Baldelli said after the Twins’ first game, how Byron Buxton is always right in the middle of things, even on day one.
The Twins’ designated hitter played an even bigger role in Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium after a brief scare.
In the first inning, Buxton lined a double, struck at 105 miles per hour, off the bat to left field. As he dove into second, he appeared to hit his face on the ground and was visited by Baldelli, trainer Nick Paparesta and third base coach Tommy Watkins.
After telling them he was OK to stay in, Buxton came around to score the Twins’ first run of the game on Jose Miranda’s RBI single.
Innings later, in the sixth, Buxton used his legs to produce the second run of the game.
After blooping a single that fell in in front of Royals right fielder MJ Melendez, Buxton advanced to second on a passed ball and raced to third on a ball hit to the shortstop, beating the throw to third.
On a shallow fly ball to center, hit by pinch hitter Kyle Farmer, he raced home for the Twins’ second run, showing off his blazing speed in the process.
The limited offense was enough for the Twins on a day where Sonny Gray threw five scoreless innings and the Twins turned in their second consecutive shutout.
The Royals were not without their chances — especially against Gray — but finished the day 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Gray fought his command at times, issuing four walks in the start. Three came in the third inning to load the bases. But Gray got a bit of assistance from the pitch clock to help him out of the inning.
Before Gray threw a pitch, Franmil Reyes was called for a pitch-clock violation, giving the pitcher an immediate edge. Gray would eventually strikeout Reyes to end the inning and escape the jam.
Gray exited after five scoreless innings, making way for a collection of relievers — Jorge Alcala, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar and Jorge López — who secured the Twins’ second win of the season.