Twins manager Ron Gardenhire says he thinks no club in baseball has two better all-around players than first baseman Justin Morneau and catcher Joe Mauer.

And as good as they have been in the past, both are off to unbelievable starts.

Through 21 games enterin Sunday, Mauer was hitting .429 with nine home runs, 28 RBI, an on-base percentage of .516 and a slugging percentage of .844. Then he hit an upper-deck home run to right field in his first at-bat Sunday night and finished 2-for-3 in a 6-3 victory over the Brewers.

Mauer's best previous start in 21 games was in 2007 when he was hitting .365 without a single home run, nine RBI, an OBP of .467 and a slugging percentage of .486.

Mauer has hit as many or more home runs in 21 games this season than he did in all of 2004 (six in 35 games), 2005 (nine), 2007 (seven) or 2008 (nine).

His 28 RBI were five short of what he had in the four other seasons combined in the same number of games.

Yes, the Twins have had some great players such as Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett and others who had hot streaks, but nothing compared to what Mauer has done since he rejoined the club May 1 after missing 22 games because of lower-back pain.

Morneau's stats in 44 games are almost as impressive.

Morneau's batting average of .343 going into Sunday's game is his best start by far. His average after 44 games was .280 in 2005, .236 in 2006, .274 in 2007 and .299 last year. He also homered into the upper deck in right field Sunday night, a grand slam in the seventh inning.

He entered Sunday's game with 36 RBI, tying his previous best start in 2006. He had 30 in 44 games in 2005, 27 in 2007 and 34 last year. Before Sunday, Morneau had 12 home runs, the most he has ever had in a season after 44 games. He had eight in 2005, 10 in 2006, 11 in 2007 and eight last year.

His OBP of .423 was his best ever at this time, as is his slugging percentage of .645.

Mauer is 26. Morneau turned 28 on May 15.

Not only are they two of the best hitters in the game, but they also are two of the best defensive players in the majors at their positions.

The Twins have Morneau signed to a long-term contract through 2013.

But what about Mauer? Like Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports, Inc., said the other day, "The Yankees have already got him measured for a uniform."

But then Bell added, "Rest assured, we will find a way to keep Joe."

Mauer has one year left on his contract after this season before he will become a free agent.

The Twins couldn't find a way to keep Torii Hunter and Johan Santana, but they will have to find away to keep Mauer.

Richards a candidate

New Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said former Gophers hockey player Todd Richards, now an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks, will be one of the candidates to coach the Wild he will interview.

"He is definitely one the of the people I will speak with," Fletcher said. "I'm putting a list together this weekend. There are a few other top quality candidates as well.

"Todd is somebody that I know well and personally. I have worked with him closely."

Fletcher said Richards has not been an NHL coach before, but certainly has been a successful head coach.

"He has a lot of experience at different levels," Fletcher said. "He is a quality person, a quality family person. He knows how to run a bench. He knows how to play the type of system that I would like our team to play in Minnesota. He is certainly a candidate. There are a couple of other strong candidates as well."

Jottings

Attendance is down in most major league cities but the Twins, going into Sunday night's game, have drawn 640,831 in 25 games compared with 608,929 a year ago in the same number of games. President Dave St. Peter said the team has sold 1.6 million tickets to date, assuring the Twins of drawing more than two million fans for the fifth consecutive season.

Anthony Swarzak, the Twins pitcher called up from Class AAA Rochester who made his first start Saturday, held the Brewers scoreless on five hits in seven innings. He was ranked one of the Twins' top 10 prospects by Baseball America in each of the past five seasons. He has pitched for five different Twins minor league affiliates in six seasons. He was selected in the second round of the 2004 first-year player draft. He was earning $30,000 per year at Rochester, but his prorated pay jumps to $400,000 a year when he puts on a Twins uniform.

Second baseman Alexi Casilla, who played in 98 games last year with the Twins, will be paid 60 percent of his $400,000 salary while he plays for Rochester. He is hitting .328 in 16 games for the Red Wings.

Now that fundraising for the Gophers football team's new TCF Bank Stadium has reached its $86 million goal, the fundraising focus will shift to a new Gophers baseball stadium and basketball practice facility. ... Former Gophers pitcher Cole DeVries is 3-3 with a impressive 2.86 ERA in eight starts for the Twins' Class AA New Britain farm team.

The Los Angeles Dodgers recalled New Ulm, Minn., native Jamie Hoffmann on Friday. Hoffman, 24, had started the season with Class AA Chattanooga before being promoted to Class AAA Albuquerque earlier this month. Hoffman, the son of Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffmann, signed with the Dodgers as an undrafted free agent in 2004. The outfielder hit his first major league home run, a three-run shot, against the Angels on Sunday. In 2003, he was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL in the eighth round. After high school, he played a year in the USHL and planned to play hockey for Colorado College before deciding to play baseball instead.

Dustan Mohr, who was with the Twins from 2001-03, is in his second season with Wichita of the American Association. Mohr, who will be 33 next month, is hitting .257 with two home runs and seven RBI in nine games through Saturday.

Former Gophers women's golfer Terra (Petsinger) Posthumus earned a spot in the 2010 LPGA Championship field by winning the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional (T&CP) Central Section Championship earlier this month. Posthumus, who is married to former Gophers football player Jarod Posthumus, shot a 68-65--133 to win by eight strokes.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com