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Twins Insider

La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Postgame: Buxton took advantage of curveballs to smack two long hits

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A handful of extras from the home of the soon-to-be-deposed world champions:

    Kelvin Herrera routinely throws the ball more than 100 mph. So why would he throw a far-slower breaking ball to a rookie like Byron Buxton in the ninth inning of a tie game?

    Don’t know. But Buxton was expecting it.

    “He started me with two breaking balls [at Target Field], and the other night, he started with two breaking balls here,” Buxton said. “I knew I was going to get a curveball sometime in that at-bat, and I just didn’t want to miss it.”

    He didn’t. Buxton jumped on the off-speed pitch and drove it into left-center field, an easy double that triggered the Twins’ three-run rally and carried them to victory.

    It was a night full of hitting breaking balls hard for Buxton on Thursday; he lined out on a slider in the fifth, and a seventh-inning curve from Royals starter Danny Duffy wound up getting to the center field fence, and Buxton flew to third base. He also didn’t strike out on Thursday, only the second time in his last 23 games that he avoided a whiff.

     “It’s good to see him hit off-speed pitches,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. When the Twins got a pair of singles to open the seventh, “we bunted guys over for him to give him a chance to put us on the board, and he stayed back on the pitch. When the ball goes in the gap, it’s entertaining to watch him run.”

XXX

    The triple might have been even more entertaining, in fact, had the situation been a little different. Buxton reached third base without sliding, and rounded the bag — just in case.

    But third base coach Gene Glynn stopped him.

    How close was he to trying for his first inside-the-park home run of the season?

    “Pretty close,” the rookie admitted. “I took a pretty big turn when I rounded third, just to see where the ball was. Gene was telling me, ‘It would have been nice to send you.’ “

XXX

    Kyle Gibson allowed only two runs through the first six innings, and had his season ERA back down below 5.00, down to 4.95 in fact. But two singles and a Jarrod Dyson triple scored two more, and Gibson closed his season with a 5.07 ERA to go with his 6-11 record. The victory eventually went to reliever Michael Tonkin, who had not pitched in a game the Twins won since Aug. 2.

Slumping Dozier out of Twins' lineup for first time since May 24

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brian Dozier has been in the Twins’ starting lineup for 113 consecutive games, and he told manager Paul Molitor he wanted to keep playing through the season’s final game. Molitor agreed — then changed his mind.

    “Last night kind of pushed me in the other direction,” Molitor said of Dozier’s 0-for-5 night, which dropped him to 1-for-27 (.037) in his last six games. “I went back to him today — I think he’s been pushing so hard for so long, trying to do the right thing by playing, setting an example. I’m hoping just backing him off mentally today will help him get through Chicago” this weekend.

    Dozier has started every game since May 25, so wearing down now, particularly under the weight of 102 losses, is understandable. Dozier hasn’t had a two-hit game since Sept. 14, and he’s batting .137 (7-for-51) with one home run in his last 12 games. The second baseman is still chasing the MLB mark for most home runs by a second baseman, and Molitor believes not playing tonight actually gives him a better chance of reaching that mark in Chicago, where Dozier has homered three times already this year.

    “When you get tired, you start muscling the ball,” Molitor said. “He’s down to 12 at-bats, roughly. We’ll give up three tonight to try to make the last 12 really good.”

    With Dozier out, Eduardo Escobar gets the start at second base, his first time at that position since the final game of the 2015 season. Kyle Gibson gets the start as the Twins try to prevent being swept in all 10 games at Kauffman Stadium this season, and try to avoid setting the franchise record for losses.

    Here are tonight’s lineups:

TWINS

 

Polanco SS

Grossman DH

Sano 3B

Vargas 1B

Kepler RF

E. Escobar 2B

Murphy C

Schafer LF

Buxton CF

 

Gibson RHP

 

ROYALS

 

Dyson CF

Merrifield 2B

Hosmer 1B

Morales DH

Orlando RF

Gordon LF

A. Escobar SS

Cuthbert 3B

Butera C

 

Duffy LHP

7:10 PM (FSN)
Minnesota 57-102
Chicago White Sox 77-82