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
Top 8th123456789RHE
Detroit22000000 4100
Minnesota3000030  6100
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
HR: DET- None MIN- None

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: C. Frias 2 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 16
San Francisco - WP: S. Romo 4 FINAL
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 2
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 9
Toronto - LP: J. Happ 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 6
Washington - LP: R. Detwiler 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 3
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 4 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 3
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 2
Cincinnati 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 3
Chicago WSox 1 Top 8th Inning
Kansas City 6
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 0
Detroit 4 Top 7th Inning
Minnesota 6
Milwaukee 0 Top 9th Inning
St. Louis 2
Seattle 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
LA Angels 0
Texas 0 Top 3rd Inning
Oakland 0
Philadelphia 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
San Diego 0
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close