Twins' Mauer edges Jeter for AL batting crown on final day

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

NEW YORK -- Joe Mauer became the first catcher to win the American League batting title, going 2-for-4 for the Minnesota Twins on the final day of the regular season to hold off the New York Yankees' Derek Jeter.

Mauer's doubled and singled against the Chicago White Sox, leaving his average at .347 down from a high of .392 on July 1 but good enough to best Jeter, who went 1-for-5 against Toronto and wound up at .343.

"You couldn't really not think about it," Mauer said. "There were so many questions. Scores on the board, people saying you need to do this, do that. I've never been so nervous in my life. I'm just happy it's all over with and we're here celebrating."

Mauer became the first catcher to win a batting title in either league since Ernie Lombardi hit .330 for the 1942 Boston Braves.

Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez won the NL batting title for the first time, going 2-for-4 against Cincinnati to wind up at .344, five points ahead of Florida's Miguel Cabrera. It was the NL-high 25th batting championship for the Pirates, the first since Bill Madlock's in 1983.

"It hasn't sunk in yet, but it's something special," Sanchez said. "There's a lot of relief, excitement and joy."

Philadelphia's Ryan Howard led the major leagues with 58 homers -- the highest total since Barry Bonds' record 73 in 2001 -- and 149 RBIs.

Boston's David Ortiz led the AL in home runs (54) and RBIs (137).

Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki led the majors with 224 hits. With seven straight 200-hit seasons, Suzuki matched Wade Boggs for the second-longest streak behind Willie Keeler's eight in a row from 1894 to 1901.

Chicago's Juan Pierre led the NL with 204 hits, one more than Philadelphia's Chase Utley.

The New York Mets' Jose Reyes topped the majors with 64 stolen bases, leading the NL for the second straight year. Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford stole 58 bases, winning his third AL steals title.

Florida's Hanley Ramirez scored 119 runs and stole 51 bases, becoming the first NL rookie with 110 runs and 50 swipes.

For the first time in modern major league history, there were no 20-game winners in a non-shortened season.

Minnesota's Johan Santana and the New York Yankees' Chien-Ming Wang topped the AL at 19-6. In the NL, six pitchers tied with 16 wins: Arizona's Brandon Webb, Los Angeles teammates Derek Lowe and Brad Penny, Chicago's Carlos Zambrano and Cincinnati's Aaron Harang.

Santana won his second AL ERA title at 2.77, and Houston's Roy Oswalt led the NL at 2.98.

Webb began the day with a chance to lead the NL in wins and ERA but had his shortest outing of the season, lasting only four innings and giving up seven runs to San Diego.

Santana struck out 245 to lead the majors and win his third straight AL title, and Harang struck out 216, one more than San Diego's Jake Peavy for the NL lead.

Francisco Rodriguez led the majors with 47 saves after tying for the AL lead last year, and San Diego's Trevor Hoffman topped the NL with 46, raising his career total to a record 482.

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