The way Joe Mauer is hitting right now, it’s hard to believe if he gets four chances to break up a no-hitter, he’s not going to do it.
The Minnesota Twins dropped a 4-0 decision to open a four-game set against the Texas Rangers on Monday in Arlington, with their start catcher breaking up a no-hit bid from the Rangers pitching staff with one out in the ninth inning.
Facing Rangers dynamite closer Neftali Feliz, Mauer laced a single to center field after an Orlando Hudson walk. Feliz struck out Jason Kubel and induced a harmless ground out from Michael Cuddyer to end the game.
Mauer continues to be red-hot since the All-Star break. He has only two hits in his last four games, but that’s mostly due to the fact that he’s walked seven times in 15 of those plate appearances.
And despite the fact that the current cleanup hitter Jason Kubel continues to mash, who can blame teams for pitching around Mauer?
In 33 games since the Break, Mauer is hitting an astounding .416 with a .497Â on-base percentageÂ and .632 slugging percentage. Further proof that he’s seeing the ball well is his 2-to-1 K/BB ratio since the Midsummer Classic. Pretty amazing how quickly he went in the batting average race of being outside the top 10 to reaching No. 3 with a .330 average, behind only Texas’ Josh Hamilton (.357) and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera (.341).
Feliz was the third Rangers reliever trying to finish what Rich Harden had started. Harden is known as much for his injury-laden past as he is for his bona fide ace yet often wild stuff.
The right-hander, who is battling through the worst season of his eight-year career, tossed 6 2/3 hitless innings. But a high pitch count that resulted in five walks forced Rangers manager Ron Washington to pull him from the start.
This is a familiar setting for Twins fans, who just one week ago saw starting pitching Kevin Slowey yanked from a start after seven no-hit innings because of a high pitch count. Slowey, of course, landed on the disabled list following his next start.