MINNEAPOLIS – Byron Buxton’s red-hot bat helped carry the Twins on their recent West Coast swing. On Tuesday, his speed made the difference as Minnesota won the opener of a three-game series with Detroit, 5-3, at Target Field.

Buxton led off the bottom of the seventh with the game tied, 3-3. He sliced a liner down the right-field line off reliever Will Vest (1-2) that landed in fair territory before bouncing into the stands for a ground-rule double. He advanced to third on a pitch in the dirt that skipped away from Tigers catcher Jake Rogers.

Ryan Jeffers followed with a chopper over the mound fielded by second baseman Colt Keith, who threw to the plate. Buxton ran on contact and slid under Rogers’ tag for the go-ahead run.

“He’s feeling good and you can really, really see it. We’re seeing it right now,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s very explosive and playing the game the way he knows how to play it.”

Buxton got hot at the plate while the Twins visited Oakland, Arizona and Seattle from June 21-30. He slashed .407/.433/1.000 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in helping Minnesota to win six of those nine games (he appeared in seven).

Upon his return home, it didn’t take long for Buxton to use his legs to make a huge play. Tigers center fielder Riley Greene, the second batter of the game, looped a broken-bat liner into short center field off Twins starter Simeon Woods Richardson. The ball seemed destined to find grass: Statcast projected the hit probability at 61 percent.

But that didn’t take Buxton’s speed into account. He got a good read on the ball off the bat and charged toward the fading liner. With a full-out dive, Buxton snatched the ball before it hit the ground, retiring Greene and helping keep the Tigers at bay.

“He’s definitely blessed and gifted,” said Woods Richardson, who raised both arms into the air and smiled as Buxton made the grab. “The five percenters that no one thinks he should be able to get, he’ll get to. And he’ll put a lot on himself to get to those balls. So, having that knowledge, that speed, that talent, that leadership out there in the outfield, it definitely says a lot.”

Buxton has fought through numerous injuries during his 10-year career with the Twins. Over the past three seasons, he’s played just 238 of a possible 486 regular-season games. And he didn’t play an inning in center field last year, as the team tried to keep him healthy by limiting him to designated hitter.

But that was then. This year, the 30-year-old is back to playing with abandon, showcasing all five tools that made him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, but especially his speed.

“He’s moving really well. You can really see his stride,” Baldelli said. “It’s such a long gait. I use the term ‘elegant’ sometimes, for some guys. He’s in the category of that. It’s a blur. He runs like it almost looks like you’re watching a track star, like a world-class 400-meter runner when he’s doing his thing.”