We kid around with Mauer because we love him. But mercifully for Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mauer ended his season-long home run drought at the Minnesota Twins' new ballpark by connecting against right-hander Gavin Floyd(notes) for a solo shot in the fifth inning of his team's 7-6 victory against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
Hard as it is to believe, the $184-Million Man took 49 games and 208 plate appearances to go deep in front of his hometown fans in 2010.
"It messes on you mentally," Mauer acknowledged. "You try to do different things that are out of what makes you do well. Yeah, I fell into that trap a little bit, but you try to just have good at-bats and stick with your game."
UPDATE: As Stew commenter Tara noted, here's video of Mauer apologizing for taking "so long" to homer at home. Awesomely adorable.
After clubbing a career-best 28 homers in 2009, including 16 at the former Metrodome, Mauer has but seven total homers this season. The power drop has put a hurt on his RBI count and taken a few points off his slugging percentage. It also had folks wondering where the beef went.
In (psuedo) fact, Twinned Cities entrepreneurs were *this* close to printing T-shirts that would have celebrated "Warning Track" Mauer, a three-time batting champion and the reigning AL MVP.
Just by looking at the awesome chart that tracks where all of Mauer's balls-in-play land, it's easy to see how tough it is for him to even reach the warning track at Target. Mauer's only done it five times — and two of those barely made the track's edge.
In fairness to him, Target Field puts a drag on pretty much anyone trying to hit a home run there; Mauer's not the only guy whose power numbers are suffering.
So, before you rag on JoeMau too much and make him up a silly nickname (too late!), know this:
The guy remains a relentless hitting machine.
Over the past 28 days, Mauer is batting .482./.545./.747. Seven-four-seven. He's hitting like the biggest airplane in the world, people.
He's also on a couple of record paces for doubles. Hey, two bases are halfway to four!
Still, it probably felt great to go oppo against the Sox and conquer the hometown beast.
"I've hit a lot of balls that way that have died, so it's good to get one over the wall," Mauer said.
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