8/29/2014 11:09 P.M. ET
Gardy thinks Mauer pressed for All-Star spot
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire offered up a new theory on Friday on why Joe Mauer uncharacteristically struggled in the first half of the season.
Mauer hit .271/.342/.353 with two homers, 17 doubles and 28 RBIs in 76 games before going on the 15-day disabled list on July 2 with a strained right oblique. But he's been playing much better since his return, hitting .288/.400/.475 with two homers, five doubles and 12 RBIs in 17 games, entering Friday.
"There's no doubt that he was pressing before the All-Star Game," Gardenhire said. "It's the first time in my career as a manager here that I've seen Joe Mauer really want something bad, and that was to play in that All-Star Game. I really think that played a part in it. I don't think he would ever admit to it, but in my opinion it definitely did."
The All-Star Game, which was held at Target Field on July 15, didn't feature Mauer, as the Minnesota native had a down first half and was on the DL at the time. The six-time All-Star still served as an ambassador for the event.
But Mauer downplayed Gardenhire's take on his first half, as he felt there was more to it than simply pressing to make the All-Star team.
"I don't know about that," Mauer said. "I definitely wanted to make the team. But I don't know if it had anything to do with my first half. It's news to me."
Mauer said injuries played a role, and he believes he's still making good contact this year, but a lot of line drives have gone for outs. Mauer is hitting line drives 26.5 percent of the time, which is higher than his career 23.7 percent mark, but is hitting .330 on balls in play, which is lower than his career .347 mark, according to Fangraphs.com.
"It's a combination of a lot of things," Mauer said. "I've lined out quite a bit, and probably more than in the past."
Plouffe's homer No. 10K in franchise history
BALTIMORE -- Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe made history Friday night, as he connected on the 10,000th home run in franchise history in the seventh inning of Minnesota's 9-1 loss to the Orioles.
Plouffe cracked his 59th career homer with a solo blast off right-hander Miguel Gonzalez to snap a six-game home run drought for the Twins that was their longest since Aug. 18-24, 2012.
It was homer No. 10,000 for the franchise, which dates back to 1901 as the Washington Senators before they moved to Minnesota in 1961. The Twins, who were able to retrieve the ball to put on display at Target Field, also became the 16th organization to reach that mark.
Plouffe said he was honored to be a part of history, but said much of the credit goes to the late Harmon Killebrew, as the Hall of Famer hit a team record 559 homers from 1954-74.
"It was pretty incredible to be a part of history," Plouffe said. "I think how many he was a part of and how incredible that is. I was just in the right place at the right time."
Streaking Schafer sticking in everyday lineup
BALTIMORE -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire likes what he's been seeing from outfielder Jordan Schafer and said he plans to continue giving him regular playing time moving forward.
Schafer, who was selected off waivers from the Braves on Aug. 2, has fared well since getting consistent playing time, which wasn't the case in Atlanta given the crowded outfield situation there.
Schafer picked up three hits and a season-high four RBIs in Thursday's 11-5 win over the Royals in 10 innings, and he has been a key contributor offensively while batting down in the order.
He's hitting .328/.411/.438 with five doubles, one triple, nine RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 21 games, entering Friday. It's a major improvement on his .163/.256/.213 line in 63 games with the Braves.
"He's been big at the bottom because you want the lineup to roll over," Gardenhire said. "We're just letting him play. We just want to see what he can do. I think he's comfortable here. He's getting a great opportunity because he's not playing for a day and sitting for two. He's playing every day and getting consistent at-bats."
Twins go with Fryer, May pairing
BALTIMORE -- The Twins didn't have the luxury of a getaway day game against the Royals on Thursday, so they didn't land in Baltimore until roughly 4 a.m. ET after playing 10 innings in Kansas City.
But the Twins still rolled out their normal lineup against the Orioles on Friday outside of one change, as manager Ron Gardenhire gave catcher Kurt Suzuki a rest, starting Eric Fryer behind the plate.
Gardenhire said it was also done because he likes to pair rookie right-hander Trevor May with Fryer given their familiarity from their time at Triple-A Rochester. Fryer caught May nine times at Triple-A this year and has now caught three of his four big league starts.
"We played a late night last night and we looked at the pitching matchups here the next few days so this made sense," Gardenhire said. "Fry-man and Mays worked in the Minors together. So it makes sense for everybody involved. It gives Kurt the chance to hang out in the dugout and drive me crazy."