MINNEAPOLIS -- In his first start since suffering a concussion on a foul tip while catching on Sept. 12, Mitch Garver helped alleviate any concerns about his injury with a career night at the plate against the White Sox.Playing first base after being ruled out from catching again this season,
MINNEAPOLIS -- In his first start since suffering a concussion on a foul tip while catching on Sept. 12, Mitch Garver helped alleviate any concerns about his injury with a career night at the plate against the White Sox.
Playing first base after being ruled out from catching again this season, Garver matched a career high with four hits and set a career best with six RBIs to carry the Twins to a 12-4 victory in Game 2 of Friday's split doubleheader at Target Field. Minnesota won, 2-1, in Game 1 behind a strong performance from Jose Berrios, who eclipsed the 200-strikeout mark for the first time in his career.
Garver made a pinch-hit appearance on Wednesday, but Friday's nightcap was his first full-game action in more than two weeks and he was happy he wasn't shut down for the season.
"That was definitely in the conversation, that we're not going to come back at all, and just shut it down and take it into the offseason and get better but I wanted to end on the right foot," Garver said. "I wanted to come back and get into the offseason knowing that I'm healthy and I can really shoot for 2019 really feeling great. Now I'm back, and it's nice to be on the field again."
He didn't look rusty, ripping a two-run double in the first, an RBI double in the second, a two-run single in the third and an RBI single in the fifth. He helped the Twins to an early 10-1 lead, as they scored three runs in the first, four in the second and three in the third. Garver improved his slash line to .268/.336/.416 with 21 doubles and 51 RBIs in 101 games as a rookie, helping to solidify his spot on the roster going into next year.
"I think he settled in on both sides with his offense and his catching," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We just saw a steady growth of Mitch as a hitter. There's been a lot of times particularly in the second half where he's taken pitches to the opposite field in run-scoring situations to cash in some people. We always talked that the bat played and the more at-bats he's gotten, the more confidence and results."
White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito struggled from the start, as Garver got the Twins on the board with his double and scored on a single from Max Kepler in the first. Giolito walked four straight batters to open the second before giving up a two-run single to Robbie Grossman that knocked Giolito from the game.
Former Twins lefty Hector Santiago didn't do much better, as Garver laced a two-run double off him in the second, while Grossman and Garver were at it again in the third. Grossman brought home a run with a single, and Garver plated two with his second double. Grossman combined to go 4-for-6 with two walks on the day.
Garver kept it going with his RBI single in the fifth off Santiago and had a chance to do more damage in the seventh with two on and nobody out but grounded out. It did set up an RBI groundout from Kepler.
"I really wanted to capitalize on that seventh RBI, but I was unable to," Garver said. "It is what it is, I had a great night, I wasn't going to go on about it. It's really fun. It doesn't happen very often."
The offense helped back right-hander Chase De Jong, who finished his year on a good note by picking up his first Major League win and turning in his best performance since being called up in September. De Jong, acquired from the Mariners for lefty Zach Duke and making his fourth start this month, allowed two runs on four hits, including a pair of solo homers, over six innings with four strikeouts. He finished the year by going 1-1 with a 3.57 ERA in 17 2/3 innings.
"It's wonderful," De Jong said of his first win. "It's eluded me for a while. To finally have one there in the win column is a tremendous feeling. We were just going after guys and being aggressive."
MAUER EXITS TO STANDING OVATION
First baseman Joe Mauer, who could be playing in his final weekend with the Twins as he contemplates retiring after 15 seasons, played in both games of the doubleheader as designated hitter, going a combined 4-for-8 with a walk. He went 2-for-4 in the nightcap and was removed for a pinch-runner after singling with two outs in the sixth. He left to a standing ovation from the crowd and tipped his helmet back to the fans.
"It worked out with the lead and an opportunity to get that last hit of the day," Molitor said. "It was a nice moment for the crowd to recognize."
Garver became the first Twins player to have six RBIs in a game since Eduardo Escobar against the Royals on Sept. 2, 2017. He's the 36th Twins player to accomplish the feat. The club record is eight RBIs by Glenn Adams (1977) and Randy Bush (1989).
HE SAID IT
"It's peace of mind for myself and for the people that care about me, my family, my wife. She was pretty concerned about the whole deal, so just to show her I'm healthy and feeling great, I'm able to play still." -- Garver, on coming back from the concussion
Right-hander Kyle Gibson (9-13, 3.68 ERA) will start in the second-to-last game of the season for the Twins on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Gibson has been Minnesota's most consistent starter and has been solid in September with a 3.04 ERA in four starts. Lefty Carlos Rodon (6-7, 3.61 ERA) goes for Chicago.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.