ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Minnesota Twins expect Kyle Gibson will play a big role in the rotation of the near future, and the righthander has justified their belief at times.
For instance, Gibson had crafted scoreless inning streaks of 13 innings and 22 innings this season.
But Tuesday was a reminder that the development road is a bumpy one, as Gibson labored and couldn't recover when his offense bailed him out of a terrible first inning. The Los Angeles Angels went on to beat the Twins 8-6, adding an insurance run in the eighth inning for the final margin of victory.
Gibson opened the first by walking Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout. Albert Pujols reached on a fielder's choice when Danny Santana fielded his grounder but tried for a force play at second that was unsuccessful. Josh Hamilton singled to center, driving in two runs. Gibson then plunked Erick Aybar with a pitch to reload the bases. Howie Kendrick followed with a two-run single to right as the Angels pushed their lead to 4-0. A fifth run scored as C.J. Cron grounded into a double play.
"It's just frustrating in a game where we are trying to keep a streak going and we have been playing really well," Gibson said. "And to go out there in the first inning and really don't give us a chance."
The Angels' five-run first inning were more runs scored off Gibson than he's given up in his past five starts combined.
But his teammates gave him a chance for a do-over.
Angels lefthander C.J. Wilson retired the side in order in the first inning, but Josh Willingham and Kendrys Morales greeted him with back-to-back home runs to open the second. Trout nearly made the catch of the year on Willingham's drive, climbing the wall high enough to get both shoulders over it as he reached for the ball and just missed it. It was the second time the Twins have hit back-to-back home runs this season, the other time coming June 9 in Toronto when Santana and Brian Dozier began the game with homers.
Sam Fuld came through with an RBI single, then scored on a Santana's double as the Twins closed within 5-4. Then Brian Dozier singled to right, Santana slid home ahead of the tag and the score was tied at 5-5.
A large crowd at Anaheim stadium rained boos down on their team while Santana high-fived fellow Twins in the dugout.
Given another chance, Gibson handed the lead right back. Calhoun singled to right, and Trout buried a fastball down the middle out to right-center for two-run home run and a 7-5 Angels lead.
"They jumped him early," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He misfired, put men on base. Couldn't make a pitch. I don't think he had command of too much. Hoped to run him back out there and see if he could find a couple innings for us. That didn't work out either. Just a rough night for him. Looked like his ball was a little bit flatter tonight, whether he was overthrowing or not."
Gibson was replaced after the second inning. He gave up only four hits, but the two walks and the hit batter in the first inning came back to haunt him. It's the second time this season he's given up seven runs in an outing, the other coming April 22 at Tampa Bay.
Righthander Samuel Deduno put up four scoreless innings in relief of Gibson, and the Twins closed to 7-6 in the fifth on Morales' sacrifice fly. Matt Guerrier pitched a scoreless seventh.
"We stay after it," Gardenhire said. "We stay in games. We did tonight and had chances, even when we got within one."
The Twins blew chances to tie the score in the seventh. The first two batters reached but Joe Mauer hit into a double play. Willingham walked, but Morales struck out to end the inning.
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