MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins center fielder Byron Buxton is continuing to make strides offensively with his recent changes at the plate, recording his third straight multihit game Thursday night, while his speed also played a major factor in a 6-4 win over the Orioles at Target Field.
Buxton went 2-for-4 and helped spark a six-run third inning with his quickness on the bases, as Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini tried to force him out at second base, only for Buxton to reach safely and load the bases.
"It's very nice just to be able to contribute to such a big win," Buxton said. "I got a few extra steps out there just in case something like that happened. I was able to beat the throw, and it was a big part of that third inning. We capitalized off that and took the momentum and ran with it."
Buxton, who has muted his leg kick to improve his contact rate, has also started to see results with the change, going 3-for-4 with a homer on Tuesday and 2-for-4 on Wednesday. It marked the third time in his career and the first time this season he recorded three straight multihit games.
He's worked hard with Twins hitting coach James Rowson to improve his approach at the plate, while also trying to get more comfortable with his new swing mechanics. Buxton's average exit velocity has improved to 89 mph in July, after averaging 84.5 mph the first three months, according to Statcast™.
"It's been about being more patient at the plate, while also being more aggressive at the pitches I should swing at," Buxton said. "It was very tough to go from where I was to where I am now. It's just a process. I know when we first started with this new swing it was tough because I had used the leg kick in the offseason and the last couple years. It just allows me to trust myself and keep having quality at-bats."
Twins manager Paul Molitor said the changes have allowed Buxton to see the ball longer to the plate, and it helped with his third-inning single -- an opposite-field liner on a pitch up and in -- and his single in the sixth, when he pulled a changeup to left. The ball Buxton pulled had an exit velocity of 105 mph, signifying hard contact.
"It's a lot about what he's been working on," Molitor said. "Rather than being too quick and in a rush, he's slowed it down. He's had a nice little run here squaring some balls up and his confidence is starting to grow."
Buxton clarified the changes aren't about hitting the ball on the ground to use his speed but more about increasing his contact rate while still trying to drive the ball. His hard-hit rate has jumped to more than 40 percent this month (per Fangraphs.com), which is nearly double his previous rate.
"We've been working on staying back and driving the ball the other way," Buxton said. "It's just about not missing pitches. There were pitches early in the year I could handle, but I was popping them up or fouled them off. So it's about being balanced and not worrying about everything."