A day after Twins center fielder Byron Buxton took a “day of recovery” while continuing his rehabilitation mission, the Saints had what amounted to a day of homecoming Sunday at CHS Field.
After going on a long streak that included first place for the first time this season with a win on Saturday, the Saints had one of those games where things just didn’t click, losing 5-2 against the Iowa Cubs.
“We had no reason to win this game the way we were playing,” Saints manager Toby Gardenhire said. “We had chances, but we just couldn’t make it in the end.”
Back in the lineup after a day off, Buxton tied the game 1-1 at the end of the first with a long homerun that landed past the palm trees in the left-field lobby.
He flew off and struck out his other two batters before leaving the game in the seventh inning.
Drew Strotman started for the Saints and fought four innings. He allowed seven hits but was only 2-1 behind.
“He didn’t have his best stuff,” Gardenhire said. “He didn’t really find a command and he was a bit touched. He made a few guys walk, but he made it through and he gave us a chance to win. “That’s about all you can ask for on a day when he doesn’t have much to do.”
The Saints tied in the seventh inning on an unearned run.
Receiver David Banuelos started off with a brace, and with two strikeouts he scored from the third on an error by Cubs shortstop Abiatal Avelino.
Buxton was supposed to hit with an out and Banuelos on the third, but Gardenhire lifted him up for a nip. JT Riddle pulled sticks before Tomas Telis reached the error.
“I’m knocking for Buxton,” Gardenhire said with a smile. “We were all joking, ‘It was the worst mismanagement anyone has ever made.’ “But he got his three at-bat, he played center and that’s what we asked him to do.”
Avelino redeemed the mistake with a single RBI in the eighth to put the Cubs in front, 3-2.
The Cubs added two runs in the ninth, including a solo homerun from Trayce Thompson.
Saints outfielder Jimmy Kerrigan missed the last two games with a sore foot, but Gardenhire has said he will be ready to go when the Saints begin a 12-game road trip Tuesday at Columbus.
The news was less than ideal for potential pitcher Josh Winder, who has been on the injured list for seven days due to a conflict in his right shoulder.
Winder is in rehab in Florida, and Gardenhire has said there’s a good chance he won’t pitch again this season.
“Even if they bring him back up and he starts throwing again,” Gardenhire said, “I don’t know if we’ll see him here.”