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

San Francisco - J. Peavy 7:07 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 14 1st Qtr 5:37
Orlando 14
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Boston
Washington 6:30 PM
New York
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Memphis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Atlanta 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Portland 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Phoenix 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Anaheim
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 8:30 PM
Real Salt Lake
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close