Mauer's resurgence central to Twins bounce-back season

Joe Mauer is the only Minnesota Twins player still swinging from the last time the team was in the postseason.

After three years of injury-induced misery, that sweet, left-handed stroke has been dialed in like the days of old, one of the biggest reasons the Twins have rebounded to end a six-year playoff drought.

Mauer hit .305 this season, the first time he has crested that plateau since 2013 and has emerged as a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman this season for the unexpectedly resurgent Twins, who face the Yankees in New York on Tuesday night in the AL wild card playoff

“It’s felt good just because we’ve been winning,” Mauer said. “I haven’t been able to dump champagne on my teammates’ heads in seven years, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

Mauer’s renaissance has coincided with several others on the roster this season to help the Twins become the first team to qualify for the playoffs after losing 100 games in the previous season. Byron Buxton has re-emerged as a budding young star after looking overwhelmed at the plate in April, Kyle Gibson gave the team some quality innings in the starting rotation in August after being demoted to the minors and Ervin Santana put a suspension for taking a banned substance last season behind him and made his second All-Star appearance.

Brian Dozier has topped 30 homers in a season for the second straight year, Eddie Rosario has been a consistent force in the middle of the lineup over the second half of the season and utility man Eduardo Escobar has hit 21 home runs.

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