Byron Buxton doesn't want to make any excuses.
Not for how he's on a season-high, six-game hitless streak.
Not for how he's dropped a couple of recent deep fly balls, despite plenty of highlight-reel catches from past seasons proving he's athletic enough to make spectacular plays in center field.
And certainly not for his knee.
The Twins' six-game winning streak ended Wednesday with a 4-2 loss to Detroit in 10 innings at Target Field — in which both teams left 10 men on base and converted only one of numerous opportunities with runners in scoring position — and Buxton continued his slump. He is currently 0-for-26 at the plate, and in the past 12 games, he's 3-for-45.
Trevor Larnach hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to put the Twins ahead, in front of an announced crowd of 20,375. Twins starter Dylan Bundy held Detroit scoreless for five innings until Harold Castro hit his first of two solo home runs in the sixth that tied the score. Jeimer Candelario notched another home run, a two-run shot, in the 10th inning to put the Tigers up 4-2. The Twins loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 10th but failed to bring any runners home.
Buxton did make it to first base in the extra inning but only because of a throwing error. He admitted he hasn't quite figured out the root cause of his slump, but he for sure isn't blaming the dry spell on his bum knee.
"I want to play. I want to contribute to the team," Buxton said. "So, I have to make better at-bats, get on base and just try to get more runs across for my teammates. I'm really not thinking too much about [the knee]."
The 28-year-old, who has missed huge chunks of past seasons because of various injuries, tweaked his right knee when sliding into a base early this season. Ever since, the Twins have enacted a plan to rest him every couple of days in hopes of avoiding extended time on the injured list while targeting him toward only his second 100-plus-games season of his eight-year career.
That's drawn some criticism from those who think the star center fielder — who just signed a seven-year, $100 million contract this past offseason — should play all the time. Buxton made it clear Wednesday he wants to play as much as possible, but he's had to juggle tough choices to maximize his contribution.
"Mentally is what's really the toll," Buxton said of why he hasn't considered a longer layoff. "Being hurt the last few years, and you can play but not the way you want it to be. … Mentally [now], I'm still in a good spot. I'm positive. I'm confident."
Buxton's main motivators are his teammates. He wants to have their backs and play alongside them. But that, too, comes with conundrums. In the Detroit series alone, Buxton had two dramatic moments in the outfield. In the sixth inning of Monday's 5-4 victory, he tracked Spencer Torkelson's fly ball to the wall. He missed the catch but was able to brace himself with his forearms before the collision.
Buxton said that was the first time since his injury he was "scared of the wall."
"The back of my head was, 'Make sure you're there for your teammates,'" Buxton said. "I could tell how skittish I was. I was mad, but not mad. Mad it hit my glove, and I didn't catch it. But I was positive because I stayed on the field."
In Tuesday's 2-0 victory, he dove to snag Candelario's fly and somersaulted back to his feet. Buxton said he doesn't really know how he makes those in-the-moment decisions on which play is worth the risk and which isn't.
"You pick and choose your times to turn the jets on and not turn the jets on," Buxton said. "My teammates made that very, very clear: Make sure I'm smart. I'm doing everything in my power to make sure I stay on the field and be there for them."
Buxton declined to say whether his knee is any better now than a couple weeks ago. Manager Rocco Baldelli said that even in games where Buxton has felt his worse, he's managed to smash hits.
Of Buxton's three most recent hits, which came May 13-16 against Cleveland and at Oakland, two were home runs. He's hopeful more of those are in his near future regardless of his knee's status.
"Just keep putting good swings on the ball, eventually they're going to start falling," Buxton said. "I'm hitting the ball pretty hard. I'm positive I'm trending in the right direction."