Even with two strikes, Mauer gets his hits as Twins top Angels again

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 17, 2013 - 8:07 AM

His calm and skill at two-strike hitting help him drive in three.

view larger photos

  

Joe Mauer isn’t afraid.

The three-time batting champion is on another blazing streak, lining any and every pitch into left field or up the middle. He had four hits Monday, and four more in Tuesday’s 8-6 victory over the Angels — and the fuel that drives it, his manager says, is his lack of fear.

Most hitters hate to hit with two strikes. Mauer, Ron Gardenhire says, barely notices.

“It takes courage,” Gardenhire said after Mauer singled four times, drove in three runs, and raised his batting average to .386. “In the first place, not many guys want to get to two strikes and fight balls off. But it’s not like he fights balls off — he puts as good a swings on with two strikes as he does any other time in the count.”

Certainly seems like it lately. On Tuesday, facing Angels lefthander Jason Vargas, Mauer got down in the count 0-and-2 in each of his first two at-bats — and promptly lashed singles the opposite way each time, the second one driving in two runs. In his third at-bat, Mauer didn’t wait; he swung at a 1-1 fastball and drove it up the middle for another hit, raising his batting average to .382. And in the seventh inning, facing reliever Jerome Williams, Mauer took two called strikes, worked the count to 3-2 — then dropped a 90-miles-per-hour cutter in front of Mike Trout to drive in another run.

“We keep saying it’s incredible, and it is at this level, to swing and get those hits like he does,” Gardenhire said after Mauer put together back-to-back four-hit games for the first time since 2006. Counting his ninth-inning double Saturday, the Twins catcher has nine hits in his last 11 at-bats — seven of them on two-strike counts. “You just have to have a lot of confidence, and knowing the strike zone, trusting your hands, and he does. He can flat-out hit, let’s just put it that way.”

Too bad he can’t pitch, too. Mike Pelfrey started for the Twins and, after two perfect innings, had to grind his way through three more. He threw 96 pitches, gave up four runs, yet still earned his second victory of the season. “That’s not good enough,” Pelfrey said. “I’ll do better.”

If he can do as well as Anthony Swarzak, that might be enough. The righthanded reliever retired 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced, and if not for a ninth-inning error by Trevor Plouffe, Gardenhire said, Swarzak might have finished the game. “He’s been throwing really well all spring. He’s on a mission right now,” Gardenhire said. “He was just pounding the strike zone.”

But after the error and a single, Glen Perkins was summoned, and the game got tense. Mike Trout doubled home two runs, bringing Albert Pujols to the plate as the tying run.

Pujols hit a screamer, and it bounced off Plouffe about 10 feet into the air. Pedro Florimon plucked the ball out of the air and rocketed it to first, a step ahead of the slow slugger. “The old combo play,” Gardenhire joked.

Whatever the play, it worked, especially behind an offense that racked up a season-high 15 hits and matched its season high with nine runs. “We’re really hitting the ball right now,” Pelfrey said. “The bullpen and the offense picked me up tonight.”

 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - LP: M. Latos 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 5
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 9 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Greene 4
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 4 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 8 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Penny 6
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 0
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 2
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 7
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: B. Peacock 8
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Webb 6 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: L. Oliveros 3
Texas - LP: M. Kirkman 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 2
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Locke 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 6
San Francisco - WP: G. Kontos 12 FINAL
Colorado - LP: M. Belisle 7
Seattle - WP: J. Paxton 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 5
Washington - LP: D. Fister 1 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4
Arizona - LP: B. Ziegler 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: K. Quackenbush 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
NY Giants 9/8/14 6:10 PM
Detroit
San Diego 9/8/14 9:20 PM
Arizona
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
(25) Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(19) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(18) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(23) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Washington
(14) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(13) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(15) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(7) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(17) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(21) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(12) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(16) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(9) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(21) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(8) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 13 FINAL
Calgary 28
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 78 FINAL
Phoenix 96

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Vikings win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close