It’s a skill Joe Mauer has always valued practically above all else — getting on base. So it only makes sense that the Twins’ all-time leader in on-base percentage should also own the franchise’s longest on-base streak.
That became official Thursday night, when Mauer led off the eighth inning with a walk, the 43rd consecutive game he has reached base. That surpasses Bob Allison’s 42-game record, set in the Twins’ inaugural season in 1961, an achievement manager Paul Molitor acknowledged in front of the team after the 6-3 loss to Cleveland.
“It was nice. After the game, it was a tough loss, [yet] he came over and shook my hand,” Mauer said of Molitor’s brief team meeting. “We try to celebrate those things when they come around, so it was really nice.”
So is owning the record, though “I can’t really grasp it because we’re in the middle of the season,” Mauer said. Still, “any time you’re mentioned with Bob Allison, that’s humbling. It’s something that I take a lot of pride in, trying to work at-bats and getting on any way I can, whether by hit or walk.”
It’s an unusual steak, because Mauer hasn’t really been “hot” during it. His batting average was .264 on the day it started, and it’s .266 now. And his on-base percentage of .370 during the streak is actually well below his career OBP of .395, a franchise record, two points ahead of Rod Carew’s .393.
Mauer’s streak is also well behind the major league record of 84 games, set by Red Sox star Ted Williams in 1949. Williams also had a 74-game streak, as did the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio.
Nolasco ready to contribute
Ricky Nolasco figures that, no matter what happens during the Twins’ final 10 games, he has salvaged something from a lost season: It won’t be a lost offseason.
“At least I won’t have to worry about my ankle when I start working out” to prepare for next year, the righthander said. “That was my main goal.”
But the Twins want him to have another goal now — help them reach the postseason. Nolasco will accompany the Twins on their weeklong road trip and could be activated as soon as Friday. He’s not going to step back into the rotation, but another arm in the bullpen can’t hurt, Molitor figures.
Not that the manager has any specific role in mind. “No disrespect, but I told him I can’t promise him anything. I don’t know how these games will unfold,” Molitor said. “You’re in a stage of the season where you might use different people early in the game if your starter has a rough night or an injury, to try to give yourself a chance, because you can’t concede anything. … It might take some unusual circumstances to find a way to get him in.”
Pitching at all, after missing nearly four months because of a bone-on-bone impingement in his right ankle, is unusual enough. And even Nolasco, who has thrown a half-dozen bullpen sessions, isn’t sure what the Twins will be getting.
“If I get into a game, great. If I don’t, I’m just trying not to disrupt what these guys are doing here,” he said. “With the season winding down, we don’t really have a chance to stretch out [my arm] and get more appearances. … I’m just trying to go home healthy.”
Nolasco, completing the second year of a four-year, $49 million contract, is on the 60-day disabled list, so a player must be removed from the 40-man roster to activate him. It’s worth the trouble, General Manager Terry Ryan said, to get a look at Nolasco before the season ends.
No progress for Milone
Tommy Milone threw a dozen pitches Thursday to test his throwing shoulder, but the weakness that bothered the lefthander last week isn’t gone.
“I don’t know if we were overly encouraged by it,” Molitor said. “I don’t think it was a setback, but I don’t think the reports are that he’s imminently ready to return.”