The Minnesota Vikings are commonly regarded as being a quarterback away from a berth in the Super Bowl.
The same argument could be said for the Minnesota Twins and a possible slot in the World Series.
All-Star catcher Joe Mauer has missed the Twins' first 20 games due to a sore lower back. He's scheduled to rejoin the Twins on Friday.
It can't be too soon for the Twins, who dropped a 7-1 decision Monday night to Tampa Bay in the Metrodome. The loss put the Twins at 9-11.
The Twins continued to struggle in a situation in which Mauer excels: providing a timely hit with a runner in scoring position (Mauer hit a lusty .361 last season with runners in scoring position with two outs). The Twins went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position Monday night.
Even the Twins' leading hitters and run producers struggled in the clutch. Both Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel each failed twice with runners in scoring position.
Joe Crede provided the Twins' only run with a solo blast in the sixth inning.
Former Minnesota Twin Jason Bartlett, acquired by Tampa Bay, along with Matt Garza and Eduardo Morlan in a trade for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie, stung the Twins for a run-scoring single in the fifth and added a solo homer in the ninth.
Scott Baker, in a losing performance, offered the Twins some measure of consolation with his best performance thus far this season. He surrendered six hits, four earned runs, and one walk in six innings of work.
However, the Twins' relief corps suffered yet another breakdown.
R.A. Dickey surrendered a two-run homer to Carlos Pena in the eighth inning and Bartlett greeted Juan Morillo with a solo blast in the ninth.