Notes: Mauer's bat heats up
Cuddyer sets career high Saturday; Lohse looks good in Minors
MILWAUKEE -- Not so long ago, the news that Joe Mauer was catching a day game following a night game might have drawn headlines in Minnesota.But with his knee worries behind him, the focus instead is on his strong offensive production. It's not a surprise that manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to keep Mauer's bat in the lineup Sunday. During the first two games against the Brewers, Mauer was 7-for-10 with four RBIs. Mauer's performance in Milwaukee is just part of a recent hot streak at the plate. In his last 14 games, Mauer is hitting .404 (21-for-52) with two home runs, 12 RBIs and 11 runs scored. "You know, I'm just seeing the ball well," Mauer said. "I'm playing pretty good and I don't want to change too many things. I want to keep it going." It's not the first time Mauer has played a day game following a night contest this year, as he did the same during the Yankees series back on April 14-16. In that situation, like this one, the Twins had an off-day following the series, which helped in the decision process. The Twins have two off-days this week, one on Monday and another Thursday, and Mauer knows that if that weren't the case, his chances of playing might be slim. "If we had a full week of games, I don't know if I would be playing today," Mauer said. Using his catcher in back-to-back days is not something Gardenhire likes to do often, but with Mauer's hot streak and rookie Boof Bonser getting the start on Sunday, it seemed like the perfect fit. "We're trying to sweep a series here, so put him out there and he'll be fine," Gardenhire said. "I wouldn't have a problem if it were [backup catcher Mike Redmond] either, but with the way Joe's swinging, shoot, keep him in there." New level of comfort: Another hitter who has been on a roll for the Twins is outfielder Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer set a career high in RBIs with five in Saturday night's game, and Cuddyer has reached base in 20 straight games. It's the type of performance that has long been expected of Cuddyer, but one that hasn't come until his newfound stability in right field. When he played third base last season, where he was less comfortable defensively than in the outfield, his offensive statistics weren't as strong. Gardenhire believes there may be a connection there. "Third base is a tough position to play and when you're putting so much pressure on yourself defensively to get the job done, it wears on you," Gardenhire said. "I knew when I played shortstop, that was a day where I couldn't bobble a ball. When I went over to second, I would relax because I knew I could do the old Ron Gardenhire thing and knock it down and still throw him out. So I do know that feeling and I think Mike's really relaxed out there in right field right now." Franchise player: After having already been given the nickname "Franchise" by some of his teammates, it didn't come as much of a shock for Francisco Liriano that he was the subject of some new ballpark chiding on Sunday morning. Redmond joked around with Liriano about whether he had received a call shortly after the decision for the new stadium came down around 5 a.m. that morning. Why would Liriano receive such a call? Well, to ask his opinion on the specs for his locker in the new clubhouse, of course.
"Did you tell them where you wanted your new locker to be, and that you wanted three in a row like [Barry] Bonds?" Redmond said with a laugh.That new locker (or set of lockers) will be ready for the 22-year-old pitcher when the park opens in 2010. Good sight: Kyle Lohse's outing for Triple-A Rochester on Saturday night was followed closely by the Twins staff. So to see the line where Lohse gave up just one run on four hits over his complete game, seven-inning outing was definitely a piece of good news. "That's exciting," Gardenhire said. "He went down there in what was not an easy situation, a cold night in Ottawa. He flew in and took the ball in the first game of the doubleheader and got it done. They said he pitched inside and controlled the game." It was especially pleasing for the skipper to see the performance after all the negativity that plagued the move. There was no question that Lohse took the demotion hard, but for Gardenhire, the good performance showed that he put all that behind him. "What it's all about is going down there and forgetting about everything that's happened -- getting sent out and all the negatives -- and putting forth the positive 'I'm going to get this done and get back to the big leagues' [attitude]," Gardenhire said. "If it's an 'I'll prove them wrong' type of attitude, that's even better." Down on the farm: The Twins' Minor League Player of the Week is Class A Beloit first baseman Erik Lis. The Twins' ninth-round draft pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Lis hit .464 in seven games with three doubles, a home run and eight RBIs over the week. Through 35 games this season, Lis is hitting .350 with 16 doubles, six home runs and 27 RBIs. Lis leads the Snappers in average, hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs. Coming up: The Twins head home for an off-day on Monday before a quick two-game series with their division rival, the Cleveland Indians. Johan Santana will get the start for the Twins on Tuesday in a 7:05 p.m. CT start against fellow southpaw Cliff Lee.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.