It took everything for the Twins to hold off the Angels on Tuesday for a 4-3 victory — and maybe more than they wanted.
Byron Buxton made the defensive play of the night in the eighth inning with a 250-foot rocket from center field to home on the fly to throw out Shohei Ohtani, who tried to score from second on a single by Brian Goodwin.
Twins catcher Mitch Garver caught the ball and turned to tag Ohtani. In doing so, he turned his left foot into a vulnerable spot, and he was twisted to the ground as Ohtani slid feet first into him.
Here's the play:
The early diagnosis is that Garver suffered a high-ankle sprain on the play, but he will undergo more tests today.
“We don’t have a lot of the information,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We will know a lot more tomorrow. Probably was not in as much pain as I was expecting. But anything beyond that is speculation.”
Garver was down for a couple of minutes, then needed to be helped off the field as he was unable to put any weight on the foot. But the Twins felt the play was clean, and Garver did what he could after catching the ball.
“It took kind of perfect execution to get Ohtani,” Baldelli said. “He can really run. One thing about that guy that most people wouldn’t know is that, beyond everything else that he does, is that he’s one of the faster players in baseball.”
One of the most surprising players on one of the surprise teams in baseball, Garver’s night also included his ninth home run of the season, a two-run shot to left in the third inning that gave the Twins a 3-0 lead.
“Yeah, that’s tough,” said Twins reliever Blake Parker, who backed up the play at the plate and, thus, saw everything that transpired. “The dirt behind the plate is a little harder. Your cleats can get stuck in a little bit. Any time you have a play like that it’s dangerous. I hope that nothing serious has happened. I think he’s OK. He’s going to get an MRI tomorrow, so we’ll see.”
Garver has developed into a two-way force, handling games behind the plate, improving his pitch framing while batting . 329 with nine home runs, 19 RBI, a ridiculous .747 slugging percentage and an on base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.164.
“It’s a guy who happens to be swinging the bat pretty well,” said Baldelli, who wore a T-shirt bearing “Garv Sauce” — Garver’s nickname — into the interview area.
“He sees the ball. He makes great decisions on a pitch-to-pitch basis. He has tremendous at bats. When you have at-bats like that and have a good short stroke, it’s a good combination and that’s what he’s working with.”
Buxton hit an RBI double in the fourth to give the Twins a 4-0 lead. Righthander Kyle Gibson was in control until the sixth, when he walked leadoff hitter Luis Rengifo, who is batting .172. That started a three-run rally that pulled the Angles within a run.
Ohtani, who was 3-for-4, hit a one-out single in the eighth, went to second on a single by Albert Pujols, then headed home when Goodwin singled.
Buxton tried to swoop in to catch sinking liner but pulled up at the end and took it off the bounce. He didn’t have full momentum when he sent the ball home ball but Statcast measured his throw at 98.6 mph.
Garver caught the ball, turned and went for the tag.
“As soon as it bounced, I still knew we had a play on it.” Parker said. “His athleticism is off the charts. I got back where I needed to be to back up the base and I saw the throw right on line and I was watching the runner the whole time. Byron obviously has a very, very strong arm. That throw was absolutely on the money.”