When did the No. 3 hitter in the lineup become a table setter and not a run producer?
Maybe when you're the Twins, with one of the worst run-producing lineups in the majors, and you're No. 3 hitter is young catcher Joe Mauer -- from whom you're just happy to be getting singles and the occasional double on a consistent basis.
"Joe's doing what he's supposed to be doing for this lineup," said manager Ron Gardenhire, who's not putting pressure on his 23-year-old catcher to drive in runs. "He can't drive them in if they're not getting on ahead of him. You can't start putting more things on one guy's shoulders just because other guys aren't getting it done."
Actually, the first two hitters in the lineup, Shannon Stewart and Luis Castillo, have by far the highest on-base percentages on the team. And Mauer is fifth on the team in at-bats with runners in scoring position -- but has produced just two hits in 16 such at-bats (.125). He was 0-for-2 in those situations Tuesday.
REPLAY: Left-hander Johan Santana (2-3) is quickly becoming the bright spot in a dim start to the Twins season. On Tuesday against Seattle, he turned in his second straight sparkling outing to earn his second straight victory, this time 5-1 over the Mariners at the Metrodome as the Twins snapped a four-game losing streak.
Santana struck out nine and walked none in seven innings, allowing his only run when he gave up hits to the first three batters he faced -- before retiring nine straight, including the first four of those on strikeouts. In his past three starts, he's 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 22 innings with 25 strikeouts and four walks. His season ERA dropped under 4.00 for the first time this season on Tuesday (3.89).