Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has the story:
Before he stepped into the box against Vance Worley and Logan Darnell on Saturday, Joe Mauer hadn’t faced professional pitching in just over six months.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Mauer didn’t do much swinging on this day, but afterwards he sounded pleased to cross off another milestone in his return from that career-altering concussion of Aug. 19.
“Just like every first spring training day ever,” Mauer said after the workout. “It seems like that ball is coming in there a lot quicker than it normally does, but it was good. It was good to get out there. Everything went well today.”
The 30-year-old is being moved permanently to first base this season to preserve his health.
He hit .324/.404/.476 with 11 homers and 47 RBI in 113 games last year for the 66-96 Twins.
So much for a Game 7 nail-biter. The Brewers and Dodgers were separated by just one run for the first five innings of Saturday’s NLCS finale, but a monster three-run shot from Yasiel Puig boosted the Dodgers to a four-run advantage in the top of the sixth.
The timing couldn’t have been better for Los Angeles. Brewers’ left-hander Josh Hader entered the game in the third inning and dominated the opposition for three scoreless innings, then was replaced on the mound by fellow lefty Xavier Cedeño. Cedeño promptly issued a leadoff single to Max Muncy to start the sixth and, just as promptly, was lifted for right-hander Jeremy Jeffress. After giving up another base hit to Justin Turner, it looked like Jeffress turned a corner. He induced a fly out from Manny Machado, then got Cody Bellinger to ground into a force out to shift the Dodgers’ runners to the corners with two outs.
That didn’t faze Puig, however. After appearing in 10 playoff games without a single home run, the outfielder blasted a 1-1 knuckle curve to center field to pad the Dodgers’ lead.
With three innings left to play, it’s still too soon to say whether or not the Dodgers just punched their ticket to the World Series. They lead the Brewers 5-1 in the seventh.