We all know what a great player Joe Mauer is, and on Saturday evening in Kansas City he built on that legend. The Twins catcher finished 5-for-6 with two RBI in Minnesota’s extra-innings victory over the Royals. It was his third career five-hit game and the 14th time Mauer has tallied four-plus hits.
Mauer, 27, signed a massive $184 million contract extension this spring, but it hasn’t slowed him down one bit. In fact, he’s off to the one of the best starts of his career, batting .381/.453/.571 with seven doubles, a triple and 12 RBI through 63 at-bats.
The Twins, for those who dabble in the value of standings this early in the season, are 13-5 and sit comfortably atop the American League Central. With the White Sox struggling mightily and a Detroit pitching staff that includes Dontrelle Willis, the Twins have a real opportunity to run away with that division.
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas belted his 37th home run on Wednesday evening, setting a new club record for homers in a single season. Moustakas had been tied with Steve Balboni, who hit 36 home runs in 1985.
The home run came on a 2-0, 82 MPH slider from Blue Jays reliever Carlos Ramirez, boosting the Royals’ lead to 13-0 in the top of the sixth inning.
Moustakas, 29, entered the night batting .271/.313/.523 with 82 RBI and 71 runs scored in 560 plate appearances.
Red Sox starter Chris Sale recorded his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season on Wednesday night against the Orioles. The momentous occasion occurred with two outs in the eighth inning. Facing Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a slider that caught the strike zone low and inside for called strike three.
Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strikeout 300-plus batters in a season in the last 15 years. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002, and Johnson also did it in 2001 and 2000. Pedro Martinez had been the only other Red Sox pitcher to have a 300-strikeout season.
Through eight scoreless innings, Sale limited the Orioles to four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox offense gave him plenty of run support. Mookie Betts and Devin Marrero each hit two-run home runs in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double of his own in the eighth to make it 8-0.