Mired in a 1-for-31 slump, Byron Buxton spent Wednesday afternoon practicing his swing with Minnesota Twins coaches in the visiting batting cage in the bowels of Seattle’s T-Mobile Park
For the second straight night, Buxton wasn’t in the lineup after going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts on Monday in the series opener.
Buxton figures to be back at designated hitter on Thursday afternoon when Minnesota wraps up its four-game series against the Mariners
“I’m probably overthinking a little bit, so, yeah, (two days off) makes sense a little bit,” Buxton said. “I’m just trying to get back to being who I am.”
Although Buxton ranks second on the Twins with 15 home runs and is tied for second with 36 RBIs, he is hitting .196 through 77 games
The Twins have scored 16 runs on 23 hits the past two games during Buxton’s absence
Buxton said watching those games was good for him.
“It gives you that idea: ‘Just relax a little bit,’ ” he said.
An outstanding defensive center fielder, Buxton has been limited to DH duties because of hip and knee injuries sustained late last season.
Buxton has brought up the idea of returning to the field, but Twins manager Rocco Baldelli isn’t considering that option
“This isn’t a question of what he wants to do. It’s a question of, what is he physically capable of doing?” Baldelli said.
Without playing in the field, Buxton admitted he has had trouble finding a routine between at-bats.
“It’s not like old school, where you’ve got guys that go in and play a PlayStation,” he said, “(or) guys that go in there and put on their headphones and listen to music or whatever the situation may be. So, it’s a little bit different.”
Instead, he’s been spending a lot of time in the cage.
“Probably too much time,” he said.
Without Buxton, Edouard Julien, Max Kepler and Alex Kirilloff went deep on Wednesday in Minnesota’s 6-3 victory. The first-place Twins have won five of six games since the All-Star break to pad their lead in the American League Central
Minnesota closer Jhoan Duran threw a 104.8 mph pitch in the ninth inning on Wednesday, a personal best and the fastest pitch in the majors this year. He owns the top five spots on the 2023 list.
“It keeps going into space, outer space,” Baldelli said. “I don’t know where it’s going to stop. You see it throughout the league as a whole, where it’s gone from one level to the next level when it comes to velocity, but he’s living on his own planet at this point.”
Tom Murphy and Eugenio Suarez homered for Seattle, which is 2-4 on its 10-game homestand.
The Mariners rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game before a passed ball allowed the go-ahead run to score in the eighth inning
“It’s disappointing,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “You fight back like that and tie the game and the momentum is going your way, but unfortunately, we couldn’t keep it going.”
The series finale will feature a matchup of right-handers, Minnesota’s Pablo Lopez (5-5, 4.24 ERA) and Seattle’s George Kirby (8-8, 3.43).
Lopez, who pitched a four-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts on July 5 against the Kansas City Royals, endured his worst start of the season on Saturday at Oakland. He allowed seven runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings but got a no-decision as the Twins won 10-7
Kirby won his last two starts before the All-Star break before getting hit hard by the visiting Detroit Tigers in a 6-0 loss on Saturday. He gave up six runs on eight hits over five innings.
Neither Lopez nor Kirby has faced his Thursday opponent previously.
–Field Level Media
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