I'm not going to have much time to write on Friday nights this year, at least not early on, so Saturday posts (when I'm able to put one up) will generally be rather and short and will focus on one aspect of the game in particular. For last night's game, I chose to follow Joe Mauer's performance against left-handed starter John Bale. It was Mauer's first start of the season against a southpaw, and his performance against lefties this year is something I'll be following with particular interest. Why?
Mauer vs. LHP, 2006: .331/.401/.425, 11-2B, 2 HR, 23 K, 22 BB
Mauer vs. LHP, 2007: .283/.355/.319, 5-2B, 0 HR, 25 K, 15 BB
If you've found yourself wondering why Mauer's '07 campaign was such a regression from his '06 campaign, there's a big reason right there.
Anyway, here's a pitch-by-pitch breakdown of each of Mauer's at-bats vs. the lefty Bale in last night's game:
First AB - 1st inning
Pitch 1: Takes fastball high (ball, 1-0)
Pitch 2: Takes fastball just inside (ball, 2-0)
Pitch 3: Takes fastball down the middle at the knees (strike, 2-1)
Pitch 4: Takes fastball outside corner (strike, 2-2)
Pitch 5: Hits breaking ball at the belt back up the middle for seeing-eye single.
Summary: Excellent at-bat. Mauer took four straight fastballs, then went with a breaking pitch and tapped it right back up the middle to drive in Carlos Gomez as the Twins' first run.
Second AB - 3rd inning
Pitch 1: Takes fastball inside (ball, 1-0)
Pitch 2: Takes change-up at the knees (strike, 1-1)
Pitch 3: Takes fastball high (ball, 2-1)
Pitch 4: Takes curveball outside (ball, 3-1)
Pitch 5: Takes fastball at the belt (strike, 3-2)
Pitch 6: Hits fastball back up the middle for infield hit.
Summary: Another good at-bat, and Mauer again goes back up the middle, this time a chopper off the glove of Bale.
Third AB - 4th inning
Pitch 1: Takes fastball down the pipe (strike. 0-1)
Pitch 2: Fouls fastball back into net (strike, 0-2)
Pitch 3: Takes pitch-out (ball, 1-1)
Pitch 4: Takes slider down and in (ball, 2-2)
Pitch 5: Taps curveball to second for 4-3 put-out.
Summary: Once again, Mauer takes some pitches. Grounds out to second in classic fashion, but that's OK.
TOTAL SUMMARY: Mauer also had an at-bat against left-handed reliever Jimmy Gobble in which he struck out, but I didn't get a chance to document that one. Nevertheless, an impressive game for Mauer. He worked deep into every count and picked up a pair of hits, and during his at-bats against Bale he never swung and missed at a pitch.