Buxton sparks Twins' offense with clutch hits

Two-run triple in 7th sets wheels in motion for comeback win

Buxton sparks Twins' offense with clutch hits

KANSAS CITY -- The Twins wanted to avoid making the wrong kind of history in their series finale against the Royals on Thursday night, as a defeat would've set the club record for losses in a season with 103 and would've dropped them to 0-10 at Kauffman Stadium this year.

But rookie center fielder Byron Buxton continued his strong September and made sure it didn't happen with a go-ahead two-run triple in the seventh before sparking a three-run rally in the ninth with a one-out double in a 7-6 win. Buxton went 2-for-3 with a walk, lining out to short in the fifth.

"I saw it pretty good tonight," Buxton said. "I did a better job of letting the game slow down and come to me a little bit better. I wasn't as jumpy. I went up there relaxed."

Buxton's triple to left came on a first-pitch curveball from Royals lefty Danny Duffy, and Buxton showed off his elite speed, making it to third in just 10.71 seconds, per Statcast™.

It was the fourth-fastest time from home-to-third in the Majors this year, but just Buxton's second-fastest as he also reached in 10.69 seconds on June 3. The fastest time recorded this year was 10.45 seconds by Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton, but came while batting left-handed. Buxton holds the two fastest times to third by a right-handed hitter this year.

"It's good to see him hit offspeed pitches," manager Paul Molitor said. "We bunted guys over for him to give him a chance to put us on the board and he stayed back on a pitch. When a ball goes in the gap with him, it's entertaining to watch him run."

Buxton nearly broke for home for his first inside-the-park homer, but third-base coach Gene Glynn wisely held him at third.

"I was pretty close. I took a pretty big turn when I rounded third to see where the ball was," Buxton said. "I know Geno was telling me it would've been nice to send me. It would've been cool, but I'm just glad we got the win."

The Royals came right back with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but Buxton helped regain the lead with a one-out double on an 0-1 curveball from reliever Kelvin Herrera. Buxton scored on a go-ahead RBI single from Robbie Grossman before the Twins tacked on two more runs on singles from Miguel Sano and Max Kepler.

Grossman's go-ahead RBI single

"When we played him at home, he threw me two curveballs, and the first night here, he threw me two curveballs as well so I knew I was going to get a curveball at some point in the at-bat," Buxton said of Herrera. "So I just didn't want to miss it. He left it up a little bit."

Buxton, 23, is finishing his season on a high note -- hitting .286/.343/.615 with seven homers, five doubles, two triples and 18 RBIs in 26 games in September.

"It's been all right, but there are still a lot of things I could do better," Buxton said. "But that's what we have the offseason for to work on things and be better heading into Spring Training."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.