Kyle Gibson more aggressive, but Minnesota loses series to Cleveland

Published 8:31 am Monday, July 18, 2016

Manager Paul Molitor and general manager Terry Ryan look at Kyle Gibson’s 6-foot-6 frame and arm action and see a pitcher who should be one of the Minnesota Twins’ better starters.

Gibson’s inconsistent approach at attacking the strike zone, however, has led to too many deep counts and early exits.

The plan going into Sunday’s game was for Gibson and catcher Kurt Suzuki to see how aggressive Cleveland’s hitters would be. When the Indians remained patient, Gibson and the Twins came up short in a 6-1 loss.

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Poor defense and a weak offense didn’t help, either.

Gibson (2-6) allowed a season-high 10 hits and four earned runs in six innings. He struck out four.

“I thought Gibby was pretty good today for the most part. He attacked a little bit better early,” Molitor said.

Six of the hits came with two outs, including back-to-back-to-back singles in the fifth inning that gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead.

The hits came after Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes was carted off the field with a right shoulder injury after landing awkwardly on first base as he tried to avoid the swipe tag of first baseman Kennys Vargas, who was pulled off the bag on the throw from third baseman Eduardo Nunez. Gomes landed on his shoulder as he tumbled to the ground.

One inning later, a bobbled ball by shortstop Eduardo Escobar led to just one out instead of an inning-ending double play. Abraham Almonte followed with a ground-rule double over center fielder Danny Santana to put runners on second and third. Both scored on a single by Chris Gimenez.

“Fluky inning there in the fifth with Gomes getting hurt, and then they gave me ample time to stay loose so that wasn’t a problem,” Gibson said. “They just came out and hit a couple off-speed pitches right in a row, and all two-out hits. And then I don’t know about the next inning either. It’s just kind of a fluky situation, I guess.”

“He’s got to separate himself,” Ryan said before the game. “He should be so good.”

Josh Tomlin (10-2), who gave up eight runs — including a season-high five earned — in 4 2-3 innings against Detroit in his previous outing July 6, looked more like the pitcher that had six straight quality starts before that outing. He allowed six hits and struck out four against the Twins.

Minnesota had two runners on in the first, but just three over the next four innings as Tomlin breezed through the Minnesota lineup. He retired 11 straight before Max Kepler homered in the sixth.

“It was a good pitch,” Kepler said. “He was pounding cutters the whole game though, so I was kind of expecting that and kept my hands in a little bit better than the at-bats before and got the bat head on the ball.”

The Twins scored just eight runs in the weekend’s 29 innings, five in Saturday’s 5-4 win in 11 innings. Minnesota scored 39 runs in the six games before the All-Star Break, including 24 over three games in Texas last weekend.

Mike Napoli homered into the second deck in left field for a 1-0 lead in the second. Tyler Naquin homered in the eighth and Jason Kipnis in the ninth.

Honoring a familiar voice

Minnesota inducted former broadcaster John Gordon into the team’s Hall of Fame. Gordon spent 25 years as the Twins play-by-play voice, including the 1987 and 1991 World Series-winning teams. He retired after the 2011 season.


Trainer’s room

Twins: Ryan said 3B Trevor Plouffe, on the disabled list since July 2 with a fractured left rib, is making progress, but “there’s still some things when he’s sleeping and moving.”


Up next

Twins: Coming off consecutive quality starts, Ricky Nolasco (4-7, 5.22) is scheduled to be on the mound as the Twins open a three-game series Monday in Detroit. Matt Boyd (0-2, 5.77) is scheduled to start for the Tigers.