Pittsburgh (30-34) at Minnesota (33-33)

Fair Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 84° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Wed Jun 17, 2009
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Considering Joe Mauer(notes) is looking like a potential threat to become baseball’s first .400 hitter in nearly seven decades, it’s not surprising that he also owns the highest interleague average of any player in 2009.

With more at-bats like he had in the Minnesota Twins’ opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates, both averages should keep on rising.

A night after a perfect performance at the plate, Mauer will try to keep up his torrid pace Wednesday night as the Twins and Pirates continue their three-game set at the Metrodome.

Mauer went 4 for 4 on Tuesday as Minnesota (33-33) routed Pittsburgh 8-2 in the opener of the Pirates’ fourth and final visit to the Twins’ domed home.

“He should be MVP,” said Pittsburgh starter Paul Maholm(notes), who gave up 14 hits - three to Mauer - in five innings. “You throw him a breaking ball and he doesn’t really budge. I threw some sinkers inside and he somehow inside-outs it and hits ground balls up the middle hard. You’re not really getting in on him.”

Mauer’s four hits upped his average to .429, and while Minnesota has nearly 100 games left for Mauer to fall below baseball’s mythical .400 mark - last achieved when Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941 - some more games against the Pirates (30-34) and the rest of the NL certainly won’t hurt.

“I just tried to keep it simple tonight,” said Mauer, who’s batting .522 at home. “I’ve been having a good stretch here. It’s probably not going to last forever, but I’m going to try to hold onto it as long as I can.”

Mauer is now batting .600 (15 for 25) with three homers and 10 RBIs against the NL, helping the Twins to a 6-1 mark in interleague play.

Mauer and the rest of the Twins’ hitters may have another chance for a big night at the plate against Ian Snell(notes) (1-7, 5.25 ERA), who hasn’t won since April 18.

Still, Snell has pitched better lately. He has a 3.46 ERA in his past two starts and has only issued two walks in 13 innings after allowing 35 in his first 59 innings. He gave up 10 hits and two runs over seven innings Friday against Detroit in a 3-1 loss.

“He’s throwing the ball pretty good, and we can’t score,” manager John Russell told the Pirates’ official Web site. “It would be nice to get him to win. It would add on to what he’s been doing. It would help his confidence level a little bit more.”

Snell gave up three runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings in a 4-2 home loss to Minnesota on June 16, 2006, his lone career start against the Twins. Mauer went 2 for 4.

His mound opponent that day was Francisco Liriano(notes) (2-7, 5.99), who struck out 11 in seven innings while in the midst of his brilliant rookie season during which he went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA.

Three years and a major elbow surgery later, Liriano gave up three runs and five hits - striking out seven - over six innings Wednesday in the Twins’ 6-3 win over Oakland.

“I was throwing the ball down,” Liriano told the Twins’ official Web site. “I think my mechanics are getting better, too. I think I’ve just got to stay more relaxed and not try to make perfect pitches.”

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Starting Pitchers

I. Snell LAD vs. F. Liriano Pit
7-10 Record 5-13
4.84 ERA 5.80
89 K 122
83 BB 65
1.59 WHIP 1.55


Wednesday, Jun 17