Twins star OF Buxton done for season, set for knee surgery

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MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton won’t return this season and will have surgery on his troublesome right knee.

Derek Falvey, Minnesota’s president of baseball operations, provided an injury update on Buxton and several other Twins players before the start of the homestand Friday against the Los Angeles Angels. After Minnesota went 1-7 on its road trip and fell out of contention in the AL Central, the team made the decision to shut down Buxton for the year.

Buxton, who was named an All-Star for the first time this season and hit 23 homers in 73 first-half games, has been out since Aug. 23 due to a right hip strain. But the knee has continued to be an issue and Falvey said Buxton will have an arthroscopic “cleanup” surgery to alleviate some scar tissue and fraying.

“The reality is he doesn’t have any tears in his knee,” Falvey said. “He has some inflammation, he has some scar tissue, he has some kind of what ends up building up over time if you have tendinitis, which is kind of fraying areas of some of those ligaments. … It’s to clear that out.”

“So, what ends up typically happening is the scar tissue and otherwise creates more of that inflammation when you pound on it. So, now let’s clear out some of that and hopefully that’ll alleviate some of that stress going forward,” he said.

A date for Buxton’s surgery has not been set, but it will likely be next week to set him up for nearly a full offseason.

Falvey said Buxton’s hip is feeling better and will improve with rest. The knee, and the combination of the two, ultimately led to ending Buxton’s season. He finished with a .224 average, 28 homers, 51 RBIs and six steals in 92 games.

The team had held out hope Buxton would return this season, but Minnesota started Friday 10 games behind Cleveland in the division and 9 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot.

“I think once we got to a certain point over the last kind of week or so, and we were working through what the best next steps were, if we were in a slightly different position, we would maybe push this off a little further because in reality, the return for him is not going to be particularly long,” Falvey said.

“So whether we do it next week or we do it two weeks, three weeks from then, he’s only going to be down for a few weeks of time before he can start doing some activity again,” he said.

The team had given Buxton routine days off to manage the ongoing knee trouble. He sustained the hip injury on Aug. 22 diving for a ball.

Buxton, who signed a seven-year, $100 million contract in the offseason, has played more than 100 games just once in his eight-year career.

“This guy, he’s been battling through challenges over the course of a lot of his career, certainly, but that didn’t stop this year, and it started really early on,” Falvey said. “I think the fact that he was able to get there, fight through, have some healthy stretches, which were obviously not just healthy but incredibly productive, I felt like he was really tracking OK, and we were in a pretty good place there.”

Falvey said the team has not closed the door on a return for second baseman Jorge Polanco, who is out with left knee inflammation. Falvey said he’s also hopeful outfielder Max Kepler, out with a right wrist sprain, can return this season.

Outfielder Trevor Larnach, who was playing rehab games after core muscle surgery, is now dealing with wrist soreness.

Tyler Mahle, acquired at the trade deadline from Cincinnati, won’t return as he recovers from right shoulder inflammation. The team is focused on getting the pitcher ready for the start of next season.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.