Mauer’s swing of momentum proves he’s back

The Minnesota Twins may be struggling this season, but 2012 has been a return to form for catcher Joe Mauer.
On Saturday night in Fenway Park, the five-time All-Star provided further evidence that he’s back after an injury-ravaged 2011 season. With the Twins trailing in the ninth inning, he calmly worked a 3-2 count with two outs, then hammered an opposite-field three-run home run over the famed Green Monster.

Twins 6, Red Sox 4.

“I just tried to stay short and to the ball,” Mauer said of his game-winning swing. “He left a fastball up, and I got some good wood on it.”

Mauer, now hitting .320, then credited teammates like the exuberant Ben Revere, who extended his career-high hitting streak to 18 games as the Twins won a third consecutive game in a series at Boston for the first time since 1994.

The Twins trailed, 4-2, entering the ninth inning Saturday. Down, 2-2, in the count in his final at-bat, Mauer took a pitch from Alfredo Aceves that was perilously close to the strike zone. Yet, the three-time American League batting champ never let the moment overwhelm him. And, after Mauer sent a fastball screaming toward left-center field’s cheap seats, the Twins won because of it.

“I started laughing in the dugout,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said, “because not too many people have the courage to (take that 2-2 pitch). But Joe can; he knows the strike zone as well as anybody — that’s why he’s won all those batting titles.”

Mauer’s game-winning blast served as a reminder that he remains an enviable asset for the Twins to build around.

“I saw the (home run) ball sail over the Green Monster, and I leapt very high,” Revere said. “I was very excited — we all were.”
“I think Boston would probably like to have Joe Mauer here,” Gardenhire said, grinning. “Fortunately for us, Joe Mauer is a Minnesota Twin — and is going to be one for a long, long time.”