Twins Monday: Mauer’s slump is unprecedented

Even batting champs have their struggles.

After going 0-for-4 in Monday’s loss to Detroit, Twins catcher Joe Mauer is now hitless in his last 20 at-bats. That’s the longest hitless streak of his 10-year career. It surpasses the three-time batting champion’s 0-for-17 slump during mid-August in the 2007 season.

Before Mauer’s slump began on Thursday against Texas, he was batting .366. After Monday’s 0-for-4 outing, Mauer is now hitting 289.

Like many of the Twins’ hitters, Mauer was shut down by Tigers starter Max Scherzer on Monday. Mauer flew out to left in the first inning, grounded out to second in the third inning and flew out to center in the fifth inning. Mauer’s final at-bat of the night came against reliever Drew Smyly and he once again grounded out to second base to finish his night 0-for-4 and push his hitless streak to 20 at-bats.

His 0-for-20 skid spans five games. It’s the first time in Mauer’s career that he’s gone hitless in five straight games.

Through Monday, Mauer was the only Twins player who has played in all 22 games this season. He has caught in 16 of those games, been the designated hitter in five and played first base once so far this season. After an injury-plagued 2011 in which he played just 82 games, Mauer appeared in a career-high 147 games last year.

Whether his hitting has anything to do with the grind of playing every day is unknown, but it’s likely Mauer could get a day off in the not-too-distant future.

Youth movement: A pair of rookies drove in two of the Twins’ three runs in Monday’s loss to Detroit. Aaron Hicks’ groundout in the second inning brought home a run to make it a 2-0 Minnesota lead, and 21-year-old Oswaldo Arcia doubled down the left field line to score Chris Parmelee from second base in the top of the fourth inning for a 3-1 lead.

For Hicks, it was his eighth RBI of the season, which is now tied with Mauer and second baseman Brian Dozier for the third-most RBI on the team. Arcia, meanwhile, now has seven RBI in just 10 games in the majors this year. That’s more RBI than right fielder Chris Parmelee (6), catcher Ryan Doumit (6) and third baseman Trevor Plouffe (4).

Minor leaguers go 4-0: While the Twins fell 4-3 to the Tigers on Monday, all four of Minnesota’s minor league affiliates won their games. Leading the way was Triple-A Rochester, which won 4-3 over Buffalo thanks to a late run in the bottom of the eighth. High-A Fort Myers also won a one-run game thanks to a three-run ninth inning. Prospect Miguel Sano went 2-for-4 with two doubles and is now batting .366 on the season.

Double-A New Britain exploded for 16 runs in a 16-8 win Monday over Harrisburg. The win bumped the Rock Cats to 13-11 on the season. Lost in the shuffle of the win was pitching prospect Trevor May’s rough outing. He allowed eight runs on nine hits and three walks in just four innings of work.

Finally, Low-A Cedar Rapids trounced the Lansing Lugnuts by a 9-1 final. Pitching prospect Jose Berrios made his second start of the year for the Kernels and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings to improve to 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA. Outfield prospect Byron Buxton went 1-for-4 with a walk and a triple and has now reached base safely in all 21 games he’s played in for Cedar Rapids.

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