It has come to this for Joe Mauer. In the eighth inning of a tie game with runners on second and third and one out, manager Buck Showalter decided that the Orioles should pitch to Mauer (albeit bringing in a tough lefty, Andrew Miller, to do so) rather than put Mauer on and pitch to bring up rookie Kennys Vargas, playing in his 30th big-league game.
And could you blame Showalter? Mauer brought a .271 batting average and four home runs into the game, and was batting .244 against lefties. But deep in Mauer’s statistical profile for this forgettable season lay this nugget: Mauer was batting .320 (16 for 50) in at-bats with two-or-more runners on base, including a two-run triple just two innings earlier. And Mauer came through with a two-run single, propelling the Twins to a 6-4 win. The loss ended Baltimore’s streak of having won the last 21 games in which it scored four-or-more runs, which had been the longest current streak in the majors.