Mauer lives up to lofty All-Star reputation in AL win
Catcher helps set up run with single, follows through on closer Perkins' guarantee
NEW YORK -- Having known Joe Mauer since high school back home in their native Minnesota, Twins closer Glen Perkins has an impressive sense of what his teammate is going to do.
Perkins made a guarantee on Monday that Mauer would have at least one hit in the All-Star Game at Citi Field on Tuesday, saying his longtime friend has always had a sense of the moment.
And Mauer, with his sweet left-handed swing, didn't disappoint, singling in his second at-bat off Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee in the fifth inning. The single went off Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's glove and advanced Adam Jones from second base to third with nobody out. It set the stage for an RBI groundout from former Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy to give the American League a 2-0 lead en route to an eventual 3-0 victory in the 84th Midsummer Classic.
"That was a Joe Mauer single if you've ever seen one," Perkins said. "He hit the ball hard, just out of the reach [of Tulo]. I think his first at-bat, you see that a lot with a line drive. He just finds a way to get hits."
It was just another chapter in Mauer's legacy, as the six-time All-Star and former AL Most Valuable Player Award winner lived up to Perkins' prediction. But it was also a special All-Star Game for Mauer, who was able to spend it with Perkins for the first time.
"It's a lot of fun," Mauer said. "We just have been having a lot of fun. For him to experience it, it's just a great time."
Mauer, making his fourth start behind the plate in an All-Star Game, was also joined by his family, as his parents flew out from St. Paul, while his grandparents also came and even went with him on the parade before Tuesday's game. But his wife, Maddie, was unable to make the trip, as she's currently pregnant with twins.
"It's my parents' 35th anniversary, and my grandparents rode in the parade with me in the truck," Mauer said. "My mom's parents are the ones who haven't missed really any home games -- like four or five -- and it's my 10th year. So they're probably my biggest fans."
Mauer added that he spent time with Mets third baseman David Wright, who served as the unofficial ambassador for the All-Star Game at his home park. Mauer and Wright played together on Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and Wright gave him advice, as the Twins will host the All-Star Game at Target Field next year.
"I ran into David at brunch, and we played together and were in the same Draft so we know each other pretty well. And he said, 'Have fun next year,'" Mauer said with a laugh. "I said, 'Jeez, I don't know if I'm gonna make it.' So if I'm there, I told him I'd be happy to do it."
Mauer was behind the plate for six scoreless innings -- catching Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Felix Hernandez, Matt Moore and Grant Balfour -- while going 1-for-2 at the plate. He said it was fun catching so many elite arms, as the five pitchers combined to give up just one hit and a walk while striking out four.
"I was pretty smart tonight, wasn't I?" Mauer joked. "It was fun. It's nerve-wracking, too. Hernandez was throwing balls with so much movement. So you just want to catch it and keep it front of me. So it was fun. Those guys were here for a reason."
Perkins, meanwhile, did his best to soak in everything that comes with being an All-Star, even though he didn't appear in the game. He was the lone AL reliever not to see action as Tigers manager Jim Leyland went with Mariano Rivera in the eighth as part of a special tribute before going to ex-Twins closer Joe Nathan in the ninth.
"It wasn't important to me -- I'm here, and it doesn't make it any more legit if you get in," Perkins said. "I warmed up three times. He tried really hard to get me in there. I was just the next guy. So if this guy gets in trouble, I'm in, but you don't want guys to get in. But I was able to get a chance to warm up and get the adrenaline going and get my work in."
Perkins stuck around and watched the Chevrolet Home Run Derby on the field with his wife, Alisha, and two daughters on Monday. He also leaned on Mauer for advice throughout All-Star week, and said he enjoyed his first experience taking part in the Midsummer Classic.
"The whole experience was so cool," Perkins said. "Meeting the guys was cool. And being able to see Mariano pitch and having my kids down on the field -- all those things were great. You can't just pick one moment."