ANAHEIM -- With starting catcher Jason Castro out with a torn meniscus in his right knee, rookie Mitch Garver has taken over behind the plate and has continued to come up with key hits.Garver came up with a clutch hit for a second straight night, lacing a go-ahead RBI double
ANAHEIM -- With starting catcher Jason Castro out with a torn meniscus in his right knee, rookie Mitch Garver has taken over behind the plate and has continued to come up with key hits.
Garver came up with a clutch hit for a second straight night, lacing a go-ahead RBI double down the left-field line to lift the Twins to a 5-3 win over the Angels in 12 innings on Saturday night at Angel Stadium. It marked the seventh win in eight games for Minnesota and the 12th straight game the Twins scored at least four runs.
"I think he's getting more comfortable at this level, both behind the plate and with his at-bats," Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Garver, who is hitting .269/.333/.442. "To be able to hit that ball down the line and get a big hit like that has to be a big boost for him, especially after what he did last night, too."
Garver, who hit a game-tying RBI single as part of Minnesota's three-run ninth in their comeback win on Friday, ripped a 1-2 changeup from reliever Noe Ramirez into the left-field corner to score Eddie Rosario from first after he reached on an infield single. Gregorio Petit provided an insurance run with an RBI single into center to score Garver and help the Twins to a 7-2 record on their road trip that ends Sunday.
"It's huge -- this is a long road trip for us," Garver said. "Pulling out these wins and hopefully taking the series tomorrow, that's a huge boost for us, coming home for a long homestand. They're a tough team. Gosh, that lineup is stacked over there. So to come up with two wins here is pretty good."
Those were the first runs scored by the Twins since the third inning. Center fielder Byron Buxton, who returned from the 10-day disabled list on Thursday, helped spark a three-run rally in the third with his first hit since coming off the DL. He roped an RBI double to left off right-hander Nick Tropeano after Logan Morrison walked and Ehire Adrianza singled to open the third. Buxton was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts since coming off the DL prior to that at-bat. After Buxton's double, Joe Mauer singled to right to set up a sacrifice fly from James Dozier on a deep drive to center field.
The Twins, though, couldn't hold a one-run lead in the seventh, as reliever Thomas Pressly was hurt by a leadoff walk to No. 8 hitter Kole Calhoun. Justin Upton cashed in with a two-out RBI single to left to tie the game. The Twins nearly nabbed Michael Trout at third base before the run scored to end the inning, but Trout made a nifty slide to avoid the tag.
Right-hander Kyle Gibson was stuck with another no-decision as a result, going six innings, allowing two runs on three hits and four walks with six strikeouts to lower his ERA to 3.43. He's now struck out 50 batters in 44 2/3 innings despite entering the year with a career strikeout rate of 6.2 batters per nine innings.
After Minnesota's three-run third, the Angels got on the board in the bottom of the inning on an RBI groundout from Upton, who beat out a potential inning-ending double play. They scored again in the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Luis Valbuena after right fielder Max Kepler couldn't come up with a diving attempt on a sinking liner from Andrelton Simmons that ended up as a tough-luck triple.
"A couple breaks here and there, extra innings wouldn't have been necessary," Gibson said. "Kep dove and couldn't come up with it but it was a heck of an effort. Outside of that, I felt pretty good."
Gibson, though, was helped by a great catch from Buxton to rob Ian Kinsler of extra-bases on a hard-hit liner to right-center. Buxton crashed into the wall as he made the running grab, but avoided injury.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hildenberger escapes jam: The Angels had the chance to win on a walk-off hit in the 11th, when the Twins opted to load the bases with two outs and Trout at third. After intentionally walking both Jose Pujols and Simmons, Trevor Hildenberger got Jefry Marte to hit a comebacker to the mound to end the scoring threat.
"We walked the Hall of Famer and the guy hitting [.345] and went after the guy we could attack and force to put the ball in play," Hildenberger said. "Mollie put me in a position where I had to throw strikes and I appreciate that vote of confidence."
Mauer did something rare when he swung at a 3-0 pitch from Ramirez in the 10th, as it was only the seventh time in his 15-year career he put a ball in play on a 3-0 count. Mauer grounded out to second with Ian Kinsler making a diving stop, dropping Mauer to 2-for-7 on balls in play on 3-0 pitches in his career with 304 walks.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Buxton's catch to rob Kinsler in the fourth was a four-star catch, according to Statcast™, as it had a catch probability of 44 percent. He needed to cover 77 feet in five seconds to make the play. It was his first four-star opportunity and catch of the season.
"He made a really nice catch," Molitor said. "That ball was smoked and he somehow caught it before he hit the wall. We were all happy to see him hit a wall. We were looking forward to that."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Twins were helped by replay in the 12th, as Calhoun was originally ruled safe at first on a potential 3-6-3 double play, but after a review, the call was reversed and Calhoun was out for a big double play for closer Fernando Rodney, who went on to convert his seventh save.
In what could be a pitchers' duel between two hard-throwing rookies, the Twins will turn to right-hander Fernando Romero (2-0, 0.00 ERA) in the series finale against the Angels on Sunday, with first pitch set for 3:07 p.m. CT. Shohei Ohtani (3-1, 4.10 ERA) will start for the Halos. Romero has yet to allow a run in his first two starts, while striking out 14 in 11 2/3 innings. Ohtani went 3-for-8 with a homer and a double against the Twins as a hitter this year, but he'll face Minnesota as a starting pitcher for the first time.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.