HOUSTON -- After looking a bit shaky early, right-hander Kyle Gibson settled down to register a quality start against a potent Astros lineup.
Gibson surrendered four runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk over seven innings, but it wasn't enough for the Twins in a 4-1 loss on Monday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. Gibson bounced back after running into trouble early, retiring 15 of the final 17 batters he faced.
"I felt pretty good," Gibson said. "It was a good bounce back. I had kind of struggled the last couple months or so with command and executing pitches. Out there in the second inning, I found something mechanical and was able to execute that glove-side fastball better."
Gibson gave up a run in the first on a homer from Alex Bregman on a 2-1 four-seam fastball that caught too much of the plate. In the second, the Twins were hurt by an error from shortstop Jorge Polanco. Gibson allowed a leadoff bloop single to Tyler White and then induced a grounder from Yuli Gurriel with White running on the play. Polanco booted the ball, killing any chance for an out or a potential double play. After the error, Brian McCann plated a run with a single and a run scored on a double-play grounder hit by Evan Gattis.
"I just kind of stopped when I was going to get the ball, and I misfielded it," Polanco said through an interpreter. "It was a bad hop, but I think because I stopped between hops, it bounced again."
It was Polanco's 10th error in 52 games at shortstop this year, including his fourth over his last five games. Polanco worked on his defense during his 80-game suspension, but he's had trouble with his fundamentals since returning.
"I'm not overly concerned about today's play," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The ball was hit really sharply. There still was the potential of still trying to turn two where you might have peeked ahead. It looked like it came up on him a little bit and he was unable to corral it."
Gibson also served up a solo shot to Gurriel in the fourth, on a first-pitch curveball, but finished his outing by getting 11 consecutive outs, including the final two on strikeouts to give him five on the afternoon.
"I was hurt by the 2-1 heater by Bregman and executed a poor breaking ball 0-0 to Gurriel," Gibson said. "Other than that, it was pretty good."
Lefty Dallas Keuchel kept Minnesota's offense in check, permitting only an unearned run over six frames with six strikeouts. The Twins scored their only run against him in the sixth on an RBI single from Miguel Sano after Mitch Garver singled and Robbie Grossman reached on an error by shortstop Carlos Correa.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Strikeout ends it: Polanco represented the go-ahead run with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, but right-hander Brad Peacock ultimately struck him out on a high fastball to end the game.
"Good at-bat," Molitor said. "Pulled a couple balls foul. Fastball first, then a curveball, before the elevated pitch got him. It was just one of those things. He's the right guy you want up in those situations. He put a couple good swings on them but got a little quick."
HE SAID IT
"I was trying to make good contact, put the ball in play. Those two fouls, I opened up and they were fouls. And then I tried to swing at that last pitch. It looked good. -- Polanco, on the final at-bat
The Twins are going to use an "opener" for the second time this season when they face the Astros in the second game of the series on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Right-handed reliever Trevor May will open the game, while Houston native Kohl Stewart (0-1, 6.61 ERA) is likely to serve as the primary pitcher once May departs. Veteran ace Justin Verlander (13-9, 2.78) starts for the Astros.