NEW YORK -- Twins catcher Joe Mauer made a spectacular play against the Yankees in the ninth inning Sunday, preventing the winning run from scoring with a 30-foot run and dive -- a football-like play -- to tag out a sliding Brett Gardner before he reached home plate.
"I probably would have thrown to first if it wasn't Gardner," Mauer said. "But I remembered who was at second, thought I'd fake and maybe I'd have a chance to throw him out at third. I didn't really think I'd have to race and beat him home. ... I just tried to beat him to the plate."
The play came with Gardner on second and one out in the inning. Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli lined a shot up the middle that reliever Jose Mijares tried to catch behind his back with his glove.
Instead, the ball bounced back toward home plate and Mauer charged from behind the plate to field it. Faking a throw to first, Mauer saw Gardner already halfway down the line toward home and had to outrace the speedy outfielder, who only two days before had hit an inside-the-park homer against the Twins.
"He's pretty quick," Gardner said. "Even when I came around third and he faked to first, when he broke home, I thought I still had a chance to beat him. It really wasn't even that close. He beat me probably by a full step."
"I do [appreciate it] if I'm a fan, but as an opposing manager, I don't really care for it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "This is a young man that is an incredible player. He could have went to probably any college and been a quarterback. You see what he does with the bat. He's an All-Star player every day when he goes out on the field. The athleticism that he showed to get a really speedy runner was pretty incredible."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.