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Game 29: Royals at Twins

A solid first month of Twins baseball comes to a close today

New York Yankees v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

First Pitch: 1:10 PM CT

TV: Bally Sports North

Radio: TIBN

Know Thine Enemy: Royals Review

Today's Lineups

Bobby Witt - SS Max Kepler - RF
Vinnie Pasquantino - 1B Jorge Polanco - 2B
Salvador Perez - C Carlos Correa - SS
Edward Olivares - LF Byron Buxton - DH
Nick Pratto - RF Trevor Larnach - LF
Franmil Reyes - DH Joey Gallo - 1B
Hunter Dozier - 3B Nick Gordon - CF
Jackie Bradley - CF Willi Castro - 3B
Matt Duffy - 2B Christian Vazquez - C
Brady Singer - RHP Sonny Gray - RHP

After today’s contest, the first month of the 2023 season will be in the books. While not a spectacular, Tampa Bay Rays-esque start, it has certainly been a solid one (16-12) for the Twins. In fact, only a few missed opportunities out east—versus the Yankees & Red Sox—and some face-plants against far inferior competition—the Washington Nationals and Kansas City Royals yesterday—prevented a truly great opening month.

Amongst all the strong starting pitching performances, Joey Gallo lasers, and Jorge Polanco scorchers-of-late, Michael A. Taylor also deserves a moment in the sun—one I’ll give him today (even though he isn’t staring, of course—but a well-deserved day off!).

In years past, every time Byron Buxton was absent from CF—a frustratingly common occurrence—it was extremely noticeable and not in the best of ways. Max Kepler was fine in small doses, but far better suited to RF duty. Others like Gilberto Celestino, Jake Cave, Ryan LaMarre, or Zack Granite fell short in measuring up to Buxton’s long shadow.

Though I jokingly referred to Taylor as “Great Value Byron Buxton” or “Byron Buxton at home” to start the season, he has played himself into a name brand in Twins Territory. In the field, he covers every blade of grass that Buxton would (both possessing gilded fielding implements). His 4 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB, .722 OPS, & 102 OPS+ put him on track for near career highs. We also know he can bunt!

Essentially, Taylor has seemingly done the impossible thus far: allow fans to not miss Buxton roaming CF while simultaneously keeping Byron’s bat in the lineup at DH. Though I’m sure we’ll see #25 back in the field at some point in 2023, there is absolutely no rush to do it at the moment thanks to Michael A. Taylor. Will Taylor do something extraordinary every game? Probably not. Will he play solid, mistake-free baseball? Almost certainly.

Today, let’s see if the Twins—behind league ERA leader Sonny Gray—can wash the taste of yesterday’s sloppy LOBster-fest out of their mouths and nab the series win over Kansas City.