TORONTO – Whether it’s been Mitch Garver, Jason Castro or Willians Astudillo behind the plate, the Twins’ catching corps has been an offensive force.
“We have high expectations for our guys,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, “but I don’t know if anyone can expect clearly being the No. 1 team in baseball.”
Twins catchers currently are the most productive in MLB, with a league-high 12 home runs and a 1.147 on base-plus-slugging percentage. Garver has seven home runs, Castro has four and Astudillo has one (and one while playing first base).
It’s been an adjustment for Castro and Garver. Castro was the starter last season before knee surgery limited him to 19 games. Garver was able to play in 102 games because of it.
Both are in a timeshare arrangement now, with Astudillo also getting some reps.
“It’s something you have to adjust to,” Garver said. “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, [so] if you were thrown into a game [you] would be ready to perform.”
Castro was available off the bench Wednesday after needing a day off after getting hit on the elbow with a pitch Monday. Astudillo (left hamstring) was eligible to come off the injured list Wednesday, but the Twins will wait a couple more days.
But it looks like Baldelli is a couple of days away from having a good problem again.
“The beginning, the middle and the very end of our lineup has been there and has carried us at certain points,” Baldelli said. “We can point to our catchers as being a part of that, too.”
Castro checked his phone and found several messages about former Astros teammate Mike Fiers, so Castro figured Fiers pitched well Tuesday night.
Then someone asked him about catching Fiers’ “first” no-hitter. Then Castro realized that Fiers must have pitched really well.
Fiers, now with Oakland, threw a 131-pitch no-hitter — the most pitches used in one since he threw 134 to Castro on Aug. 21, 2015, when they beat the Dodgers 3-0.
The no-hitter caught Castro by surprise then, too.
“I think I remember looking up at the scoreboard,” Castro said. “It was probably like maybe, we were at home, so it would have been like the bottom half of the sixth inning. I look up and I was like looking at the scoreboard and I was like, ‘Does he really have no hits right now?’ I was like trying to think back through the game so far and I was like, ‘I don’t think they have any hits.’ And then I kind of started looking around and everyone’s like staying away from him and I’m like, ‘OK, yeah, he’s got a no-hitter right now.’ ”
Flash sale a smash
Between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 1 p.m. Wednesday, the Twins sold out their entire inventory of home run porch and grandstand seats that were available for $5 for the remainder of the month. The club estimates that 20,000 tickets were sold during that period.
So the club announced Wednesday evening another flash sale that ends 10 p.m. Thursday. All ballpark access tickets this month — basically standing room only — will be on sale until then for $5 with no processing fee. Tickets can be purchased by going to www.twinsbaseball.com/flashsale.
Righthander Brusdar Graterol, the Twins’ top starting pitching prospect, improved to 4-0 while lowering his ERA to 1.91 as Class AA Pensacola defeated Mississippi 1-0.
But Graterol left the game for precautionary reasons in the sixth inning when he experienced tightness in his trapezius muscle. He’s expected to make his next scheduled start.