TORONTO -- It was a 3-1 fastball. And Mitch Garver was looking for it.
Manna. From. Heaven.
Garver put a powerful, slightly uppercut swing on the fastball from Toronto's Aaron Sanchez on Wednesday night. And, 424 feet later, it was a two-run homer and the latest long ball by a Twins catcher.
"That's probably one of the better feelings in the world,” Garver said. “He was beating me up a little bit tonight. He has good stuff. I respect the way he throws the ball. He is hard to hit. The ball explodes out of his hand. So I was cheating a little bit to that one.
“I was happy to get it in the air because he had gotten underneath my barrel a couple of times. I wanted to get it in the air.”
Here are the lineups for the 6 p.m. game at Rogers Centre, with Garver hitting seventh.
Twins catchers currently are the most productive in baseball, with a league-high 12 home runs and a 1.147 on base-plus-slugging percentage. Garver has seven home runs. Jason Castro has for home runs and Willians Astudillo has the other.
This is catcher production unseen in these parts since....since...Joe Mauer.
The three-headed attack behind the plate will be back in place this weekend, when Astudillo is expected to come off the disabled list and Castro recovers from a sore elbow. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has a daily conundrum on his hands, trying to determine which catcher to start each day. It does help that Astudillo can play other positions, and Garver can play a little first base.
So far, Baldelli has picked the right catcher at the right time. I also believe that the catchers are benefiting from getting a couple days off a week. I remember former players kidding a teammate that he had “fresh hands,” whenever he was in the lineup after a couple days off.
I’ve been thinking about “fresh hands” a lot this season, when I see Garver or Castro get in the lineup and start mashing.
“It's something you have to adjust to, “ Garver said of the intermittent playing time, “Because, obviously, playing every day I think you start feeling things in your swing or you get into a little bit of a groove catching and calling games. The important part is just to stay fresh and not let those days off become empty days. Get a little bit of work in, make sure you are taking care of your body, taking care of your swing. If you were thrown into a game would be ready to perform.”
This is a juicy game for the Lumber Company. A win gives them a sweep of the Blue Jays, a 4-2 road trip and a 7-3 record during a stretch of games against the Astros, Yankees and Blue Jays heading into a homestand.
I asked Garver about the opportunity to punctuate this stretch of games with an exclamation point.
“This is probably the lightest mood clubhouse I have ever been in, so the difference between today and yesterday and the game in New York there is no difference,” he said. “It’s the same team no matter what. It's light. We go out. We have fun. We talk a little trash to each other. We hit the ball around the yard. And everyone is competing. We are all playing at a high level right now. So it's a lot of fun."