Twins 6, Brewers 2
"[Swarzak] went after hitters," Mauer said. "He pounded the strike zone with his sinker. He mixed in his changeup with the curveball. That tells you a lot about him. I might not know him that well, but what he did tonight, I think I've got a pretty good idea of what he's all about."
If you read the post-game on MLB.com, you've picked up on the Joe Mauer-Anthony Swarzak love-fest. I think they were going out for get-to-know-you-better coffees after the game before meeting each other's parents.
"When I got a guy like [Mauer] behind the plate, I know I don't have to shake ever," Swarzak said. "He does a good job back there. He gives a great target, receives the ball well. It was an honor to throw to him tonight."
What the rookie managed to do for most of the night was keep the Brewers off-balance. He only struck out three, but they were big, and he scattered just five hits across seven innings. Swarzak combined with Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares to convert only twice in seven chances with runners in scoring position.
On the offensive side, Joe Crede continues to remind us what it's like to have a third baseman with pop in his bat. He pulled his seventh homer of the season last night, becoming the fourth Twin with seven or more bombs. Even Mauer snuck another one over the left field fence for nis ninth of the season.
The thing that's intriguing about Mauer's unexpected power surge are the splits to field:
LF HR: 7
CF HR: 2
RF HR: 0
Joe isn't pulling any of his homers. While the results mean he's probably getting stronger, turning opposite-field gap doubles into just-clear-the-fence-homers, he's not turning into a power hitter right before our eyes. He's certainly capable of pulling inside pitches, but with a level swing and mechanics that don't necessarily put a lot of distance on the ball, what ends up happening is that Mauer smacks line-drives to right field with a short and compact swing. Hits to center and left field allow him to extend a little bit more, and getting full range of motion into his contact enables him to crush balls over the middle and outside of the plate for a bit more distance.
There is no good way to pitch to Mauer, but if pitchers start pitching him inside a little bit more we might see a streak of homerless games. It's going to happen at some point, but right now our golden boy is seeing the ball in slow motion, and with his mechanics and strength he's turning those great hits into long balls. And I'm not about to complain.
A win Sunday gives the Twins a series sweep, and pulls them to within a game of .500. It's a game of swings, ups and downs, and the last two weeks have been a great example of it. I love roller coasters, but that doesn't mean they don't make me sick once in a while.