Credit the fireworks and backyard barbecues, because Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton has been on a tear since Independence Day.
The 23-year-old center fielder has dazzled Twins fans with acrobatic catches all season long, but he really turned his game up after a three-hit performance on July 4.
In fact, Buxton ranks fourth in the American League with a .361 batting average since then, just behind former teammate Eduardo Nunez and a pair of Houston Astros.
Top batting averages in the AL since July 4
|Jose Altuve, Hou||.431|
|George Springer, Hou||.374|
|Eduardo Nunez, Bos||.372|
|Byron Buxton, Min||.361|
|Alex Presley, Det||.357|
Buxton has an on-base percentage of .413 in that same span (totaling 22 games), thanks to his 26 hits and seven drawn walks.
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Hes collected at least one hit in 11 of his last 12 games and has reached base safely in 21 of his last 22 ballgames.
Buxton isnt the only reason for Minnesotas recent surge back into the playoff picture, however.
Second baseman Brian Dozier is heating up as well. The leadoff man has tallied seven homers in his last 16 games, bringing his season total to 23 -- just behind Miguel Sano's team-leading 26 dingers.
Dozier hit his 20th tater of the year on Aug. 6 and swiped his 10th base in late June to become just the fourth second baseman in Major League Baseball history to have four consecutive seasons with at least 20 homers and 10 stolen bases.
|Player||Consecutive seasons with 20+ HR, 10+ SB as a 2B|
|Brian Dozier, Min||4 (2014-17) *ACTIVE|
|Joe Gordon, NYY||4 (1938-41)|
|Ryne Sandberg, ChC||4 (1989-92)|
|Alfonso Soriano, NYY-Tex||4 (2002-05)|
Dozier and Buxton will be put to the test against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who visit Target Field for a three-game series beginning Friday evening. Dozier has one career hit against Arizona, although he's only faced the Diamondbacks twice. Buxton has yet to play Arizonain his career.
-- The Twins won their 60th game of the year Thursday, surpassing their win total in 2016 (59).
-- Ervin Santana, who starts the series-opening game Friday, holds opponents to a .162 batting average in the third trip through the lineup. That ranks fourth all-time, behind the likes of Nolan Ryan (1991), Pedro Martinez (2000) and Ron Guidry (1978).
-- Arizona holds left-handed hitters to .286 on-base percentage, second only to the 1985 Dodgers (.278).
Statisticscourtesy STATS, MLB.com