SEATTLE — Byron Buxton, his manager said before Monday’s game, is a “Player of the Week kind of guy.”
The 28-year-old was indeed named the American League Player of the Week on Monday for his performance last week. Hours later, he got a jump start on his candidacy for this week.
The center fielder gave the Twins a lead they would not relinquish, blasting a two-run home run in the first inning, the first of two hits for him en route to a 3-2 Twins win over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night at T-Mobile Park.
Buxton, who hit five home runs last week, is now at 18 longballs through his first 46 games this season. That puts him just one shy of his career high — 19 in just 61 games last season.
His homer brought home Luis Arraez, who collected another pair of hits on Monday. Arraez also drew a leadoff walk in the ninth inning, reaching base in three of his five plate appearances. In the process, he raised his major league-leading batting average to .362.
The Twins (36-27) had plenty of opportunities throughout the rest of the game, though they only managed to capitalize on one other — after the Mariners (27-34) summoned a lefty to face Max Kepler, the outfielder promptly singled to bring home Buxton in the seventh.
But though they weren’t able to create much separation, Chris Archer and a group of relievers did what they had to to protect a slim advantage all night.
Archer gave up just one run in his four innings, and it was unearned after the runner reached when catcher interference was called on Gary Sánchez and was singled home later in the frame.
Archer was helped out of some trouble an inning later by third baseman Gio Urshela, who nabbed a liner on a dive that was smoked at 103.5 miles per hour off the bat to end the fourth inning.
Six different relievers then followed, covering the final five innings. The Mariners added one run — on a Taylor Trammell solo home run off Jharel Cotton — but otherwise collected just two hits off the group out of the bullpen.
While the Mariners had a runner on second base in the ninth inning, Emilio Pagán slammed the door on a Twins win by striking out Jesse Winker.