Minnesota takes series from Texas

Published 10:44 pm Sunday, July 3, 2016

After a disappointing bullpen session, Kyle Gibson watched Shin-Soo Choo drive his second pitch into the left-center seats.

“This could be a long one today,’” Gibson remembered telling catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Gibson recovered and pitched into the seventh inning Sunday in the last-place Minnesota Twins’ 5-4 win over Cole Hamels and the first-place Texas Rangers.

Gibson (2-5) won his second-straight start and came within one out of completing seven innings in consecutive outings for the first time this year.

Brian Dozier drove in two runs and scored a pair, and Gibson outshined Hamels (9-2), who allowed five runs and 10 hits while walking three in four-plus innings. Hamels had won a Rangers record nine consecutive road decisions.

Gibson gave up four runs — two earned — and five hits in 6 2/3 innings with six strikeouts.

Choo drove in three runs. He led off a game with a home run for the third time this year, a drive into the left-center seats. Gibson then retired eight straight batters, a stretch he repeated later in the game.

“Baseball’s a humbling game,” Gibson said. “Right when you think you get where you need to be, something’s going to happen. But I’m still always working, always trying to get better in the bullpen and work on things in between starts.”

Dozier hit a two-run triple in the third and scored on Robbie Grossman’s single for a 3-1 lead. Elvis Andrus singled in a run in the fifth, but the Twins opened a 5-2 lead in the bottom half when Max Kepler singled in a run and Eddie Rosario hit into a run-scoring forceout against Tony Barnette.

Choo hit a two-run double in the seventh off Ryan Pressly. Kintzler pitched around Robinson Chirinos’ two-out double in the ninth for his fourth save in as many chances, retiring Choo on a game-ending groundout.

“Gibby got stronger and got deep in the game for us, Pressly had a little trouble there with command but got out still with the lead, and then Fernando (Abad) and Kintzler finished it up, so nice way to come back and win the series today,” manager Paul Molitor said.


Pitching moves

Kevin Jepsen was designated for assignment, and with Glen Perkins recovering from season-ending surgery, Kintzler and Abad appear to be the primary contenders for closer. Molitor said it was a tough decision to part with Jepsen, who played a big role in Minnesota’s surprise winning season last year. “I think he’s going to find a home somewhere and help somebody out here in the second half,” Molitor said.


Sano’s transition

Third baseman Miguel Sano made a key play in the seventh to prevent the Rangers from tying the game. With two on and two out, Ian Desmond’s grounder took an awkward bounce and hit Sano in the chest, but he recovered to throw Desmond out at first. Molitor said it’s still too early to evaluate Sano’s transition to third base, but “so far I’ve been pleased overall.”


Trainer’s room

Twins: 3B Trevor Plouffe was scratched before the game with sore ribs. … INF Eduardo Escobar is day to day with a hamstring injury. General manager Terry Ryan said he isn’t expecting a DL stint. … Trevor May, who hasn’t played since June 9 because of back spasms, was back in the clubhouse. Molitor said May wasn’t activated Sunday because he was coming off pitching in back-to-back games in his minor league rehab assignment.


Up next

Twins: Minnesota opens a three-game set against Oakland, with Ricky Nolasco (3-6) set to make his team-leading 17th start. Nolasco is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts against the Athletics.