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Gibson: Time to 'dig deep' amid rough stretch

Right-hander doesn't blame defensive miscues for 4th straight shaky start
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- As a pitch-to-contact sinkerballer, Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson relies on his defense to help him be effective.

But the defense didn't help him on Sunday, and he didn't help himself much either, as he struggled for the fourth straight outing in a 13-4 loss to the Tigers at Target Field. Gibson was hit hard, allowing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and two walks over 2 2/3 innings. He's now 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in four starts.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- As a pitch-to-contact sinkerballer, Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson relies on his defense to help him be effective.

But the defense didn't help him on Sunday, and he didn't help himself much either, as he struggled for the fourth straight outing in a 13-4 loss to the Tigers at Target Field. Gibson was hit hard, allowing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and two walks over 2 2/3 innings. He's now 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in four starts.

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"I'm not sure I've ever been through a more frustrating four-start stretch in my career," Gibson said. "It's a little bit trying, a little bit testing. These are times to dig deep and see what you're made of and pitch with pride."

The most glaring defensive mistake came in the second, when left fielder Danny Santana dropped a routine fly ball from Justin Upton. Just three pitches later, after falling behind 2-0, he served up a two-run homer to Alex Avila to give the Tigers the lead.

Video: DET@MIN: Avila continues hot start with two-run homer

"Errors happen," Gibson said. "Danny came up after the inning and apologized. It's more blatant when it's a flyball like that. But errors happen."

Third baseman Miguel Sano also had two hits go off his glove at third, including a single from Victor Martinez in the first, but Ian Kinsler was thrown out at home by Santana trying to score from second. And second baseman Brian Dozier couldn't handle a hard-hit grounder from John Hicks with two outs in the third, allowing two runs to score, while also knocking Gibson from the game.

Video: DET@MIN: Santana's strong throw saves a run

"There have been plenty of conversations about what he needs to do to give himself a better chance," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's not a matter of will. It's just not happening. First-pitch strikes, trusting his fastball more, attacking. When he's throwing it over, they're hitting them, and when he's not, they're getting on base, so it's not a good combination."

It led to another unsightly line from Gibson, who worked to refine his mechanics in the offseason with the use of weighted balls and a balloon-shaped contraption he places on his shoulder while throwing. Despite an impressive Spring Training, it hasn't carried over into the season, and after he posted 5.07 ERA last year, he'll need to turn it around quickly or else he could be in danger of losing his spot in the rotation.

"I think something over the next five days I'll do is look back at how I threw in spring with my pitch selection and see if there's a glaring difference," Gibson said. "It's frustrating mainly because I'm going out every five days and not really giving my team a chance to win."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins