In a one-run game -- especially one that lasts 13 innings -- every play can make a difference. When Twins catcher Joe Mauer threw out Houston's Brandon Barnes at second base in the top of the seventh inning Friday night it may not have seemed like a game-changing play at the time. Minnesota trailed 2-0 at that point and still had plenty of work to do to get back into the game. As it turned out though the Twins sent the game to extras before winning in the 13th inning. Had Barnes instead been on second base with nobody out there's no telling what that run might have meant for the Astros. "That might be the one run that wins us the game" said Terry Steinbach the Twins' bench coach and former catcher. "If we can throw a guy out in the second inning and all of a sudden it's the ninth inning and we win by one maybe it was that runner that we threw out that saved that game." Last season Mauer threw out just 14 percent of potential base stealers easily the lowest rate of his career. Not all of it had to do with Mauer however. While a strong and accurate throw to the base is important the timing of the pitcher on the mound and his ability to get the ball to home plate quickly may be equally as essential. That was often a problem for Twins pitchers last year who took far too long to deliver the ball to the plate. That left Mauer with little chance at gunning down runners even with a strong and precise throw. "Our staff talked about it and has been doing a great job this year paying attention to those guys" Mauer said. "I think the attempts are probably way down which is an indicator of that. I think it all starts with the pitcher and we've got to do our job behind the plate and the middle infielders have to do their job too." Throwing out runners is really a three-man job and the middle infielders often go overlooked in this play. But the middle infield duo of shortstop Pedro Florimon and second baseman Brian Dozier have done their part this year in reacting to the play and being in prime position to receive the throw from Mauer.
Twins Mauer throwing out runners at high rate
Fox Sports North | Aug 3