CLEVELAND -- Don't look now, but there's a familiar face creeping up the ranks to challenge for the American League battling title.
Joe Mauer collected three singles on Tuesday to boost his average to .325, which placed him third in the AL entering Wednesday, behind Detroit's Miguel Cabrera (.333) and Los Angeles rookie Mike Trout (.327). A three-time batting champ, Mauer has hit .486 (17-for-35) over his last 10 games, posting a .581 on-base percentage and 1.324 OPS during that stretch.
"He's swinging really good right now," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's going to take a lot of hits to catch up, because you have so many at-bats right now."
The five-time All-Star totes a career average of .324. Mauer last won the batting crown in 2009, when he hit .365 and earned the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
"If anybody can do it, Joe Mauer can do it," Gardenhire said. "I've watched him long enough to know that when this guy is swinging good, he can really run it up there."
Gardenhire takes exception to overturned call
CLEVELAND -- In the eighth inning of Wednesday's 6-4 win over the Indians, Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire nearly lost his cool.
With two outs, Joe Mauer hit a line drive to left, where Vinny Rottino appeared to make a sliding catch. Third-base umpire Mike Muchlinski ruled that Rottino trapped the ball, granting Mauer an RBI single. Indians manager Manny Acta pleaded his case with the umpiring crew, which eventually overturned the call and decided that Rottino made a clean catch.
At that point, Gardenhire left the dugout to state his case and engaged in a heated exchange with second-base umpire Joe West. Gardenhire retreated to the bench before things escalated.
"I know the guy that was standing out there made the call that it hit the ground, and then one of the other umpires told me that he saw it get caught," Gardenhire said. "That's as far as I'm going to go with that, because I like my money in my pocket."
The flyout meant Mauer went 1-for-4 on the night, as his average dipped to .324. The catcher sits in third in the race for the American League batting crown, behind Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and Mike Trout of the Angels.
Mastroianni's hustle results in injury to finger
CLEVELAND -- Darin Mastroianni's hustle helped the Twins win on Tuesday, but he paid the price for his aggression.
While sliding headfirst into home with the go-ahead run in the 12th inning of the 6-5 triumph, the outfielder jammed his finger on a bat that was lying beside the plate. As a result, Mastroianni suffered damage to his left index finger and will be available only to pinch-run the rest of the season.
"The tendon in there got stretched bad, and there's also a little chip," said Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire.
Mastroianni singled and stole second base with two outs in the 12th. Alexi Casilla then pulled a grounder to the cut of the right-field grass, where Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis scooped up the baseball and fired a throw to first. Matt LaPorta had shifted toward the middle of the infield to serve as a cutoff man -- rather than cover the base -- so Casilla beat him in a race to the bag. As that transpired, Mastroianni dashed home to score.
"Him diving in headfirst into home plate with a bat there, he probably didn't see the bat," Gardenhire said. "It's a scary place to dive into anyway, and it ended up costing him a little bit here. But it was a very good baserunning play, other than the finger part."
The 27-year-old downplayed the injury after Tuesday's contest.
"I've jammed my finger before," Mastroianni said. "Sometimes when you slide, it happens."
Gardenhire didn't seem too bothered by the fact that Mastroianni likely won't be able to pick up a bat before the season concludes. After all, the New York native proved on Tuesday he can wreak havoc on the basepaths.
"I know exactly what we have in him," Gardenhire said. "I like him a lot. He's a good extra outfielder, part-time player. If you need him for a while, get him out there. I'm not afraid to put him out on the field. He brings a lot to the table."
Herrmann behind plate in first Major League start
CLEVELAND -- Chris Herrmann often served as Liam Hendriks' catcher during their ascension through the Twins' farm system.
Entering Wednesday's start, Hendriks was winless in 13 outings for the Twins. Perhaps Herrmann's presence behind the plate will change things. Manager Ron Gardenhire penciled Herrmann into his lineup for Wednesday's tilt against the Indians, the catcher's first career Major League start.
"He's caught Hendriks through the Minor Leagues a bunch," Gardenhire said. "I want to get him in a game. I don't want him to come up here and sit. He's earned that."
The Twins promoted Herrmann to the big league club on Friday. He played the final two innings of a 9-2 loss to the White Sox on Sunday. In 127 games with Double-A New Britain this season, Herrmann hit .276 with 10 homers and 61 RBIs.
"He can hit," Gardenhire said. "I've seen him in Spring Training. I don't worry about him. I want to get him in a ballgame."
Twins reach deal with Class A Cedar Rapids
CLEVELAND -- The Twins agreed to a four-year pact with the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kernels, who will serve as the organization's Class A affiliate.
"The Kernels have an outstanding reputation throughout professional baseball and the Twins are excited to bring our players and staff to Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium for the 2013 season," said Jim Rantz, senior director of Minor Leagues with the Twins.
The Kernels, part of the Midwest League since 1962, had been affiliated with the Los Angeles Angels since 1993.
Chris Parmelee is scheduled to fly back home to California on Thursday morning to be with his wife, who is expected to give birth. He will rejoin the club on Monday in Minnesota.
Former Twins pitcher Jack Kralick, who tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history in 1962, passed away Tuesday at his home in San Blas, Mexico. He was 77.