Baker Wins Fifth Straight Decision

The Twins came back on Wednesday night, as Scott Baker won his fifth straight decision. Since June 1, Baker is 9-1 in 15 starts, and has a nice 3.66 earned run average. Though Joe Mauer saw his 15-game hitting streak snapped, the Twins gained a game on Detroit, and now sit 5.5 games back in the American League Central.

It's August.

That's pretty much all Joe Mauer can point to as a reason for his recent surge at the plate. Mauer entered Tuesday's game batting .485 in August and .524 during his 15-game hitting streak.

"Hitting sometimes, when you don't feel the greatest you have good nights, you don't try to do too much. Nothing really felt rushed or anything. I think that was just the case (Tuesday) night," said Mauer, who went 3-for-5 with two home runs in Tuesday's game. "Probably it's just that it's August. I'm just slowing down a little bit and feeling good, if that makes any sense, feeling good but not feeling too good."

After missing the first month of the season recovering from a lower back injury connected to offseason surgery to remove a kidney blockage, Mauer admitted he's been surprised at how well his body has held up. On Wednesday, he declined an offer from manager Ron Gardenhire for a day off.

"The last few years I've started to learn how to (manage down the stretch). I think 2006 was the first year I really tested my limits and kind of saw what I was capable of doing," Mauer said. "There were a lot of games where I'd walk into the park and, to myself, I'd be thinking there's no way I'm going to be able to catch today. And then, somehow, get in there and start doing some things and start feeling better. I think I have a pretty good understanding to how my body is going to react to this time of year."

Mauer entered Wednesday's game with an AL leading .383 batting average, and after his two-homer night on Tuesday, Gardenhire summed up Mauer with a simple "amazing."

"To sit and say we're seeing history here, I don't know," Gardenhire said. "I just think we're seeing a great baseball player, a really, really good baseball player. I guess it will be history eventually. If he continues at this pace, he's going to put his name up there in the record books... It's fascinating to watch, but it's almost becoming normal, and that's scary, that he does it every day."

TWINS 5, RANGERS 4: Minnesota came back from a 4-0 deficit on Wednesday night, their second straight comeback win and the first time they've won back-to-back games since July 29 when they wrapped up a sweep of the White Sox at home. The Twins left the bases loaded in third, loaded them again in the fifth and scored one run, then took the lead with a four-run sixth.

NOTES, QUOTES:

  • 1B Justin Morneau was out of the starting lineup again Wednesday, still plagued by dizziness caused by an inner ear infection. Morneau said that when doctors examined him they found that the infection has almost entirely cleared up and there was no swelling in his ear. But the first baseman was still bothered by random spurts of vertigo throughout the day Wednesday.

  • DH Jason Kubel's left knee improved enough on Wednesday that Kubel was back in the lineup as the DH. After fouling a ball off the back of his surgically reconstructed knee early in Tuesday's game, Kubel said he didn't think he'd feel good enough to play Wednesday, but ice and anti-swelling measures provided him good range of motion and little soreness by Wednesday afternoon.

    ROSTER REPORT

  • LHP Jose Mijares faced seven batters on Wednesday and recorded eight outs, shutting down the Rangers in a career-high 2 2/3 innings of work. He struck out three and has not allowed a run in 26 of his last 30 appearances.

  • RHP Joe Nathan recorded his 31st save of the season on Wednesday. It was his second save in as many nights after having no save situations since July 29 before Tuesday's game.

  • RHP Scott Baker has won five straight decisions (a span of seven starts) even though his efforts on Wednesday weren't brilliant. Baker gave up four runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. Since June 1, the right-hander is 9-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 15 starts.

  • C Joe Mauer went 0-for-3 with two walks on Wednesday, snapping his 15-game hitting streak. He's batting .465 in 17 games this month.
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