Joe Mauer lifted Twins to dramatic win with surprising career first

There are very few things Joe Mauer hasn’t done in his major league career.

On Friday, that list got even shorter when Mauer accomplished a first that qualifies as both notable and perhaps even surprising.

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Mauer entered having played 1,614 games over 14 seasons, all for the Minnesota Twins, and had hit 131 career home runs. But until Friday, none of those home runs had been a walk-off.

That all changed with one dramatic swing, as Mauer lifted the first-place Twins to an exhilarating 4-3 win over the visiting Red Sox with a walk-off blast to the bullpen.

“This is fun!”

Those were the first words out of Joe Mauer’s mouth during his postgame radio interview.

Joe Mauer is doused by his Twins teammates after hitting his first career walk-off solo home run in a win against the Red Sox. (AP)

Does it look like he’s kidding? He was still feeling the rush after providing a moment that Twins fans won’t soon forget.

After Boston rallied to tie the game with a two-run ninth inning, Mauer represented the Twins last hope before extra innings.

Given his struggles this season — he was hitting .230/.295/.310 with one homer coming in — realistic Twins fans were probably just hoping Mauer would keep the line moving. But we’re sure there were some holding out hope that Mauer would finally have his moment.

Boy, did he. When Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes left his 96-mph fastball up in the zone, Mauer swatted it out to help the first-place Twins improve to 15-12.

“I knew I hit it about as good as I could, so if that didn’t go out, I’d be pretty upset,” Mauer said of his home run. “It felt good off the bat, and I was just hoping it would go.”

Once the ball did land, the celebration was on.

We already know how good a feeling it was for Mauer, but it had to feel just as good for his teammates. Not only is Mauer a respected leader, but this team is looking for redemption coming off a 103-loss season in 2016. They need victories to separate themselves from that disappointment, and to solidify themselves as contenders this season.

So far anyway, they’re doing a great job.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!