Miguel Cabrera is trying to become baseball’s first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, but Joe Mauer is breathing down his neck in the batting race.
Mauer went 3-for-4 Tuesday, raising his average to .326, while Cabrera went 0-for-3 with a walk, lowering his average to .329.
Cabrera leads the league with 133 RBI and has 42 home runs, trailing Josh Hamilton, who has 43. Cabrera’s Tigers open a three-game series at Target Field on Friday, so the batting race and the Triple Crown possibilities will play out all weekend.
“Mauer just continues on his pace,” Manager Ron Gardenhire said. “This guy, he’s totally incredible. He can flat out hit. It’s amazing to see. He sets such a high standard that when he gets down there close to .300, people think he’s struggling. That’s a way you make a lot of money in this game, just hitting .300. He goes way above that.”
Mauer also threw out two potential base stealers Tuesday -- Ichiro Suzuki in the third inning and Russell Martin in the fourth. This was notable because Mauer had thrown out just 11 percent (7-of-63) opposing base stealers this year.
Manager Ron Gardenhire says the bulk of the problem has been Twins pitchers being so slow to home plate that they don’t give Mauer a chance. Vasquez showed what a difference the pitcher can make, and Mauer made the kind of strong throws fans were used to seeing when he won his Gold Glove Awards in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
“[Vasquez] did a great job holding the ball, changing his delivery times, his looks over, throwing over on his own,” Mauer said. “He really did a good job tonight.”