Here are three thoughts following the latest walk-off wonder by the Twins:
BUXTON, THE THREAT: Remember about 24 hours ago when I suggested that Byron Buxton shouldn't bat fifth all the time? How do you season crow? I was talking with hitting coach James Rowson about The Process of turning Buxton into a hitter. They got rid of the leg kick he added last season, going to a no-stride approach. That was never intended to be the final stop of the journey. Buxton eventually found a happy medium, a toe tap that helps him get to a place where he can inflict the most damage on baseballs. He no longer is pulling off pitches. He can drive pitches on the outer half of the plate to right center but knows his hands are quick enough to hit the inside pitches. On Thursday, Buxton looked for an offspeed pitch with the count 1-0. "Just trying to look for something up in the zone," Buxton said. "A couple of guys that faced him in the minors said he like to throw a lot of offspeed. After that first fastball that missed the zone, I looked offspeed and it slid over the plate." Since injuring his left hand Aug. 31, Buxton is batting .289 with a double, three triples and two homers in 12 games.
BERRIOS GETS INTO THE SIXTH: Jose Berrios admitted that he was a little tired on Thursday, which might concern the Twins a little. Berrios was sloppy on Wednesday, but gave up one earned run over 52/3 innings on five hits and four walks with five strikeouts. Only 54 of his 94 pitches were strikes. He fell behind 2-0 seven times and had full counts five times. Of the 26 batters he faced, he threw first pitch strikes to 11 of them. He was not sharp, and he said he wasn't 100 percent and used the word fatigued. He's thrown a career high 170 innings, and I bet the Twins limit his outings to five or six innings the rest of the way. "We don't want to push him too far," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. " We just tell him to give us what he can."
HILDENBERGER SHINES: Trevor Hildenberger had the appearance of the night when he came on with runners on first and third with one out in the seventh. He struck Jose Bautista out with a 77 mph change up, then froze Kendrys Morales with a 92 mph fastball to get out of the inning. He struck out Kevin Pillar in the eighth before he was replaced. Hildenberger has become a key arm in the Twins bullpen. I was in Fort Myers recently, and Miracle manager Doug Mientkiewicz raved about Hildenberger, saying he's fearless, he'll bounce back the day after a tough outing, etc. Molitor appears to be finding that out. Look at how he's using him now. "I look for the biggest spot in the game," Molitor said. "He's been that valuable."
WILD CARD WATCH: Wait for it...wait for it....now it's over. The Astros just beat the Angels 5-2, and the Twins now are three games against of Los Angeles for the second wild card spot - with 16 games to play.