Joe Mauer on track to return to Twins early next week

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Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger on Tuesday that first baseman Joe Mauer is likely to rejoin the club early next week in Houston after playing in rehab games through the weekend with the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Mauer has been on the disabled list since July 2 with a strained oblique. He’ll be looking to finish the 2014 season on a positive note after batting .271/.342/.353 with two homers and 28 RBI over his first 76 games.

Mauer is owed $23 million per year through 2018.

According to FanGraphs’ free agent values, the 31-year-old has been worth $2.8 million this year.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: