Mitch Garver injured as Twins hang on for win over Angels

There are things that Byron Buxton can do on a baseball field that others simply cannot, not for lack of effort or trying — rather because the pure ability that Buxton possesses is difficult to find.

Buxton did one of those things in the eighth inning on Tuesday, picking up a single on a bounce and rocketing the ball 98.6 miles per hour more than 250 feet on the fly in catcher Mitch Garver’s direction.

The throw arrived in time for Garver to plant a tag on Shohei Ohtani, who was trying to score. It kept the game tied at 4-3, which wound up being the final score as the Twins beat the Angels in the middle game of the three-game set at Target Field.

“His athleticism is off the charts,” reliever Blake Parker, who was on the mound, said. “… Byron obviously has a very, very strong arm. That throw was absolutely on the money.”

Though the play saved the game, it came as a cost. Garver was injured on the play as Ohtani slid into him. Manager Rocco Baldelli said after the game that Garver had a high ankle sprain and would undergo further evaluation on Wednesday.

“We’re definitely worried about Garv,” starter Kyle Gibson said. “He’s been one of our better players all year and really consistent behind the plate and hopefully everything comes back negative and he’s fine.”

Though the Twins  (26-15) are carrying three catchers on their roster, losing Garver, who hit a two-run home run in the win, for any period of time is a big loss for the Twins.

Garver is hitting .329/.416/1.164 with nine home runs and 19 RBIs in 79 at-bats this season and has been making strides defensively behind the plate too.

“You can’t fake what he is doing,” Baldelli said. “…(He is) not a guy who happens to be swinging the bat pretty well. He sees the ball. He makes great decisions on a pitch-to-pitch basis. He has tremendous at bats.”

Which makes his loss even tougher.

Along with Garver, Eddie Rosario and Buxton each drove in runs in the win while Kyle Gibson and the bullpen held the Angels (20-22) down.

Gibson ran into trouble in the sixth inning, giving up all three of his runs in that inning on one walk, four hits and a wild pitch. He exited after 5 2/3 innings.

“Unfortunately, that’s probably what happened in the sixth inning was I just wasn’t quite as mechanically sound and walked the eight-hole hitter and started that inning off less than ideal,” Gibson said.

But he was bailed out by a bullpen that threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Ryne Harper came in to get out of the sixth. Tyler Duffey, Mike Morin, Taylor Rogers and Parker came in in succession and while there were tense moments throughout the later innings, all got the job done.

“This was a high-intensity, high-anxiety type game,” Baldelli. “It was a good, close ballgame and we have to get a lot of good efforts from a lot of different people, especially those guys in the bullpen, and they got it done.”

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