MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The fastball veered toward the inside of the plate, just where Joe Mauer was expecting it. Minnesota’s smooth, steady catcher unleashed an out-of-character uppercut swing, and sent the ball soaring into the upper deck.
Yes, Mauer has some power after all.
The sweet-swinging left-hander, who won the batting title in 2006 but was homerless until this week, is usually focused on putting the ball in play and not chasing anything out of the zone. He has 37 homers in 1,714 career at-bats.
“I’m just trying to do things to help the team win,” Mauer said. “I took a chance there, and it worked out.”
In the fifth, Mauer drove in two runs with one sacrifice fly—the first such feat in the majors in more than seven years—to bring his team within one against Daniel Cabrera (5-2).
With runners at second and third and one out, Mauer sent a drive to the warning track that center fielder Adam Jones tracked down in the gap. Jones slipped as he tried to throw, however, and Carlos Gomez kept racing around the bases to score with ease.
“I just feel bad. Bad the whole way,” Cabrera said. “I’m just not feeling like I need to be.”
He even had help, when Melvin Mora made a fully extended diving catch of Michael Cuddyer’s drive down the third-base line to end the third inning with the bases loaded. In the second, Brian Roberts made a tough catch of a liner and turned a double play.
Cabrera, last season’s league leader in earned runs, walks and losses, didn’t walk anyone. He gave up eight hits and hit two batters, striking out three in six innings.
“He didn’t look comfortable,” manager Dave Trembley said. “I thought maybe after the second inning he would find his groove somewhat, but it just didn’t happen for him.”
Glen Perkins again went only four innings for Minnesota, allowing nine hits, five runs—four earned—and two walks. But Bonser (3-6), in his first appearance since being pushed to the bullpen, threw 2 2-3 scoreless innings.
Perkins felt as bad as Cabrera.
“I’m just trying to find it right now, trying to find what I had those first four starts,” he said. “It’s frustrating to go out there and not have your stuff like that.”
Bonser acknowledged he took a different mental approach, though he insisted he didn’t throw any differently than he had in several recent unsuccessful starts.
“Just not worry about it. Just do what I do and let it go,” he said.
The Orioles started strong, bashing balls all over the place against Perkins — including consecutive homers by Mora and Kevin Millar in the first.
Roberts drove in a run with a single in the second and another with a double in the fourth, and Nick Markakis—who was picked off by Perkins right before Mora’s homer—added an RBI single.
But then Mauer went to work.
“He’s a real credit to the game, the way he plays,” Trembley said.
Home plate umpire Jerry Crawford was hit in the head after the game by a small red object resembling the core of a baseball that was thrown from the stands. Crawford told Twins manager Ron Gardenhire he was all right. … According to the Twins, the last two-run sacrifice fly in the majors was hit by Cincinnati’s Alex Ochoa on May 8, 2001, against Arizona. … After a decent season debut on Tuesday, RHP Radhames Liz will stay in Baltimore’s rotation and struggling RHP Steve Trachsel will remain in the bullpen. … Orioles LHP Adam Loewen threw a 27-pitch inning in extended spring training work in Florida, where he’ll stay and throw a simulated game on Saturday. Then he’ll leave and begin a rehab assignment to test his left elbow, but won’t be back until the end of June. … This was the third time the Orioles have homered in consecutive at-bats this season. Millar has been involved in each.