Sunday, May 24, 2009

Notes on Mauer and the Twins

The Twins opened interleague play with two easy victories over the Brewers. Over the last three seasons, Minnesota has thrived against the National League, compiling a 41-13 record, including 14-4 last season. That's a .759 winning percentage compared to an overall winning percentage of .540 during that span. Through two games, that trend has continued as the Twins have outscored Milwaukee 17-5.

On Friday, it was Michael Cuddyer leading the offense by hitting for the cycle and driving in five runs. Jason Kubel, who missed that game and might miss the next few with knee swelling, was the last Twin to achieve that feat, and he did it earlier this season. Justin Morneau (3 hits, 3 runs, 3B, 2 RBIs) and Denard Span (2 hits, 2 runs, solo HR) also did their share in the Twins' second consecutive double-digit output.

They backed a very nice start by Kevin Slowey, who allowed 2 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings. Yet again, Slowey showed his impeccable control, walking zero Brewers and throwing 66 of 91 pitches for strikes (73 %).

On Saturday, it was the Joe Mauer show once more. After ending his 14-game hitting streak the night before by going 0-2 with two walks and a sac fly, he responded with 3 hits and a walk in 4 plate appearances in this contest. The 3 hits included his ninth homer of the season, which tied his home run total from all of 2008. Joe Crede also homered in the game.

I'm sure you've noticed, but Mauer has been utterly absurd so far. His average now stands at .429, his OBP at .516, his SLG at .844, and his OPS at 1.360. His batting average has only been below .400 after one game; his OBP has only been below .490 after one game; his SLG has never dipped under .700; and his OPS was 1.150 at its lowest point. In addition, he's scored 22 runs and driven in 28 runners in just 21 games! And, as per usual, he's walked 16 times and struck out only 11 times.

Over at, Dave Cameron took a look at Mauer's recent performance and what we should make of it. And in's Around the Cage feature, players discussed who they thought could hit .400. Albert Pujols deservingly received the most votes, with Ichiro coming in second, but Mauer did pick up one of the 12, which was nice to see. Though, when Jose Reyes--who's highest average for a full season is .300--has as many votes, the poll can't be that reliable.

And would you look at that? In the Joe Mauer whirlwind I got caught up in, I forgot to mention Anthony Swarzak's impressive debut. He threw 7 scoreless innings and allowed 5 hits (all singles) and 2 walks. Not bad for his first Major League start.

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