(CBS Minnesota) — More than a month of baseball is in the books with minimal COVID issues. Some fans have returned to games, and more hopefully will be back sooner than later. It’s starting to feel like the real thing again. While last season offered quality baseball when the country needed a diversion, it just wasn’t what it could be. This season is different… better.
The latest Baseball Report takes a spin around the league to look at some of the recent stories. That includes Minnesota Twins’ Byron Buxton hitting the cover off the ball, Max Scherzer serving up a complete game and then joining his wife in labor, and Jesus Luzardo’s video game injury.
Byron Buxton With The Bat
The Twins have one of the worst records in baseball. Sitting in fourth place in the American League Central at 10-16, ahead of only the hapless Detroit Tigers, the season hasn’t started off quite as the team had hoped. Do they have the bats to turn it around?
Center fielder Byron Buxton is certainly doing his part. After Sunday’s action, he is slashing .408/.444/.842, which makes him one of the league’s top hitters. Those stats put him second in average, behind on Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout, fourth in on-base percentage and tops in slugging. Buxton also has 8 home runs and 15 RBI. He was was just named AL Player of the Month for April.
Last week in a win over the Cleveland Indians, Buxton picked up 5 hits in his 5 at-bats. That total included a home run, 2 doubles and 2 singles. It was just the seventh time in the team’s 60-plus years in Minnesota that a player went 5-5 with at least three extra-base hits.
Buxton has been a reasonably productive hitter in limited at-bats over his career. In his six previous seasons, he only played triple-digit games once. That was 2017, when he slashed .253/.314/.413 and hit 16 HRs. That’s his best home run total, and he’s never hit above .262 for the year. So what’s the difference this year?
Maybe he’s growing into his talent. The number-two pick in the 2012 draft is hitting the ball hard, with relevant stats like average exit velocity and hard-hit rate improving in recent years. Buxton has actually exceeded the league average in each of the last three seasons. Recent changes to his swing and form have also helped.
Combine his much-improved hitting with his speed and prowess in the outfield, and Buxton has the makings of a superstar. He just has to keep that bat alive.
Max Scherzer Tosses Complete Game Then Joins Wife In Labor
Scherzer may just be the most intense player in baseball. And that’s saying something for a professional athlete. The Washington Nationals righthander has racked up 177 wins and 2,831 strikeouts over the course of his career. He is a seven-time All-Star, with three Cy Young Awards and one World Series title.
On Sunday afternoon, Scherzer looked almost untouchable in a five-hit complete game. It was the 12th complete game of 14-year career. He had a shutout until Miami Marlins Isan Diaz led off the ninth inning with a home run. The Nationals won the game, 3-1, but Scherzer’s day was far from over.
After the game, manager Dave Martinez told reporters that Scherzer was unable to speak because he was on his way to join his wife, who was about to give birth to their third child. She didn’t go into labor during the game, however, the timing was planned. Knowing that Scherzer was able to pitch with the knowledge that labor was imminent might just make the complete game more impressive.
Jesus Luzardo Breaks Finger Playing Video Games
Luzardo’s most recent outing for the Oakland A’s was far less impressive than Scherzer’s. The lefthander pitched just three innings in Saturday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing six runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks. The A’s lost the second game of the three-game series, 8-4.
After the game, Luzardo revealed to the A’s that he had pitched with pain on his throwing hand. That pain turned out to be a broken pinky, which explains the subpar outing. On Sunday, it came out that Luzardo hurt his hand playing video games. Specifically, he “bumped” his pinky.
It must have been quite a bump to break a finger. And one can imagine that maybe there’s a little more to the story than the A’s are letting on. Video games, after all, are a non-contact activity. Perhaps the “bump” came about as a result of frustration from said video games. The world may never know.
Luzardo will be out of the A’s rotation for the foreseeable future.