MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Twins All-Star center fielder Byron Buxton exited early with hip trouble and the Texas Rangers beat Minnesota 2-1 Monday night as Adolis García homered and Corey Seager singled home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.
Buxton came out in the seventh with right hip tightness. Although he’s listed day-to-day, “it could be more than a day-to-day issue,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
The oft-injured Buxton singled and stole a base in his 92nd game of the season. Since making his major league debut in June 2015, only once has he played 100 games in a year.
“Any time something happens to him or he has to come out of the game, it’s a tough blow for us, obviously,” Twins shortstop Carlos Correa said. “Hopefully he’s fine.”
After leading the AL Central for much of the season, the Twins have gone 9-10 in August and now trail Cleveland by two games. They scored just six runs in the four-game series against Texas in the midst of a team-wide hitting slump.
“I feel like it just takes one game where everybody just clicks and we go, and it’s time for us to do it now,” Correa said. “It’s very important that we do it now. The preparation is never in question. The work everybody puts in here, I see it, and it’s great work. Now, we’ve just got to go out there and do our job.”
García extended his hitting streak to a career-best 19 games as Texas took three of four in the weekend wraparound series. The Rangers are 5-3 since replacing Chris Woodward with interim manager Tony Beasley last week.
The Twins turned their second triple play of the season after first baseman Jose Miranda caught Nathaniel Lowe’s line drive in the fourth.
A.J. Alexy (1-0) pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Cole Ragans to earn the win. Brett Martin, José Leclerc and Matt Moore blanked the Twins the rest of the way, with Moore earning his third save of the season.
“You feed off guys’ energies, especially the bullpen,” Alexy said. “You get to watch these guys come out day in and day out and just throw the ball over the plate and do their jobs, so it’s exciting to see the other guys performing really well.”
Sonny Gray (7-4) gave up two runs on five hits while fanning six. He gave up three singles in the sixth inning, with Seager’s hit driving home Brad Miller to give Texas the lead.
Over the first three games of the series, the Twins were 1 for 19 with runners in scoring position, and those struggles continued again on Monday.
In the first inning, Correa hit a one-out triple on a ball that center fielder Leody Tavares lost in the sun. Buxton walked and stole second. But Miranda struck out and Max Kepler grounded out to end the threat.
In the third, Miranda and Kepler again had a chance to put the Twins ahead with two on and one out, but Miranda grounded out and Kepler flied out to keep the game scoreless.
The Twins finally broke through in the fourth inning when Nick Gordon’s double drove home Gio Urshela from third for the game’s first run. It was their only hit in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position on the night.
“(Hitting is) a really easy thing to do when it’s coming in bunches. It feels so easy,” Baldelli said. “And when it’s not coming in bunches, it feels really hard. In reality, it’s probably somewhere there in the middle.
“We gave ourselves opportunities. The runs are there for the taking. It’s time to take them.”
Texas tied it when García hit the first pitch of the fifth inning deep into the second deck in left-center. The 453-foot drive provided another glimpse of the type of skills the Rangers’ second-year right fielder can display.
“Adolis is a dynamic player. That’s number one,” Beasley said. “When he puts his mind to something and he’s focused, he can do some special things on the baseball field, in all aspects. It doesn’t surprise me, anything he does.”
García said he started that at-bat looking for a sinker down and in, and that’s what Gray delivered. But mostly he lets his talent take over.
“I just try to keep it simple mentally, look for pitches in the zone and stay simple,” García said through a translator.
TWINS TURN THREE
The Twins pulled off a triple play with Marcus Semien on second and Seager on first. Miranda caught Lowe’s liner and stepped on first base, and his throw to Correa beat Semien back to second base for the third out.
Minnesota also turned a triple play on July 4 against the White Sox in Chicago.
Rangers: RHP Dane Dunning (3-6, 4.06 ERA) will take the mound as the Rangers open a two-game series at Colorado on Tuesday. Dunning is 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in three starts this month.
Twins: Minnesota starts a three-game series in Houston on Tuesday night. RHP Tyler Mahle (shoulder fatigue) will miss his turn in the rotation after being placed on the IL Saturday. The Twins announced Monday night that RHP Aaron Sanchez (3-3, 7.68) would be called up from Triple-A St. Paul to start the series opener.
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