Players rarely let an opportunity to have a laugh at a teammate’s expense slip by.
Some Twins wanted to laugh when Bobby Wilson tripped on a bat while running to back up first base in the fourth inning Thursday night at Target Field.
But then he didn’t get up right away.
Wilson had sprained his right ankle. He was able to finish the inning — helping rookie righthander Kohl Stewart navigate through a two-on, one out jam — but had to leave the game afterward and is likely headed for the disabled list. Mitch Garver pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the inning.
“It’s the hardest thing to do in any sport, come into a baseball game and pinch-hit, cold, off the rack,” Garver said. “So when Bobby got hurt, I saw him go down, and I immediately ran down the tunnel, started getting loose, doing some of the things to get my hips loose and to get my body loose.”
His hands sure were loose, as he pounded a two-run double to left-center that put the Twins ahead for good in a 6-4 win that cooled off the sizzling Oakland A’s.
Garver also deked Matt Olson in the top of the fifth, looking as if he wouldn’t receive a throw home, then slapping a tag on his helmet at the last moment. He also helped a relay of relievers hold the A’s to one run over the final 4 ⅓ innings.
Not too shabby for a guy who was supposed to get the day off against baseball’s best team since June 16 (42-16).
“We were all a little bit anxious just to see Oakland and everything they’ve been doing,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s been quite a story as we talked about pregame. But then you just go play.”
Wilson, who left the clubhouse on crutches, is likely headed to the 10-day disabled list, and indications are that Willians Astudillo will be called up as his replacement. Astudillo went 2-for-4 on Thursday for Class AAA Rochester, lifting his average to .276.
Garver, who stands to play even more now, broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth with his double, which came on a moment’s notice. He didn’t even have time to take swings in the indoor batting cage.
“I did not,” he said. “I just came off the rack.”
Joe Mauer followed with a single to center that scored Garver to make it 5-2. It was Mauer’s 2,085th career hit, tying him with Rod Carew for second place on the Twins’ all-time list. Kirby Puckett is first with 2,304.
Matt Chapman scored on a wild pitch in the fifth inning to make it 5-3, and Oakland tried to add to it when Olson attempted to score from second on Marcus Siemen’s single to left.
That’s when Garver tried to look as innocuous as possible before grabbing Eddie Rosario’s throw and tagging Olson.
Max Kepler homered off of Blake Treinen in the eighth — just the second home run off him all season and the first run off him since July 21.
Jedd Lowrie homered off Trevor Hildenberger in the ninth inning before he picked up his fourth save.
After the game, long after Wilson was writhing in pain on the ground in front of the Twins dugout, players started needling him.
“Why did you step on the bat?” Garver yelled at Wilson as he prepared to leave.
“What an idiot,” Wilson replied. “What kind of idiot steps on a bat?”