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Bullpen struggles, bats stifled in Twins' loss

Dozier extends hit streak to 15, tying club record
April 21, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson said it was probably his best outing of the season. He was sharp and precise. There were only a couple of mistakes. Saturday night, though, the Twins had no margin for error.Gibson battled into the seventh inning of a tight game before the

ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson said it was probably his best outing of the season. He was sharp and precise. There were only a couple of mistakes. Saturday night, though, the Twins had no margin for error.
Gibson battled into the seventh inning of a tight game before the Rays blew it open, winning 10-1 at Tropicana Field. The Rays scored a combined eight runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Meanwhile, Gibson got little support from his offense or bullpen.
"Things kind of blew up late,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
When the Rays made it 3-1 in the seventh with an RBI double from Wilson Ramos, who whacked a shoulder-high fastball over the head of right fielder Max Kepler, Gibson (1-1) was done.
Reliever Gabriel Moya then was touched for a two-run single to Denard Span, followed by C.J. Cron's second two-run homer of the night, capping a five-run seventh inning.
Afterward, Moya was optioned to Triple-A Rochester to make room on the roster for right-hander Phil Hughes, who starts Sunday afternoon.
The Twins managed just one run, scoring almost immediately when James Dozier led off the game with a double, advanced to third on a grounder, then came home on Miguel Sano's sacrifice fly. It extended Dozier's hitting streak to 15 games, tying a club record for the longest hitting streak to start a season.

After that, the Twins got only one other runner to third against dominant left-handed starter Blake Snell and reliever Matt Andriese.
"I'm definitely not going to be the one to mention not getting run support,'' said Gibson, who allowed five hits over 6 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out seven. "I've been supported quite a bit the last year and a half. Sometimes, you run into a couple of tough stretches. Our offense will figure it out.''
Molitor is counting on that.
"We have to be patient,'' Molitor said. "We have a lot of good hitters, people who we believe in offensively. We're coming off a stretch where we saw a couple of really good pitchers in Puerto Rico [against the Indians], then you get [Chris] Archer and Snell.
"We're going to see good pitching throughout the trip. You hope the repetition factor will play in and these guys will get a feel and we'll put numbers on the board.''
For much of his outing, Gibson was engaged in a pitchers' duel with Snell. He fell behind after giving up a two-run homer on an 0-2 changeup to Cron in the third, but preserved the one-run deficit until the seventh.
"The one pitch I'd like to have back is the Cron changeup,'' Gibson said. "I didn't get it down enough. Maybe in that situation, he was looking for it. It was off the plate. He likes the ball down and in. I have to do a better job of missing down.''

Gibson was haunted by another 0-2 offering in the seventh. With one out, Joey Wendle launched a triple over the head of center fielder Ryan LaMarre. Then Ramos, after missing on two breaking balls, produced an RBI double to make it 3-1.
"[Ramos] is a guy we try to elevate with two strikes,'' Gibson said. "If I can find a fault in it, it might've been 6 inches too much outside, instead of over the plate. He got a ball off the shoulder. I'm going to do that again if I face him again. I don't know that it was a lack of execution.''
"I thought Gibby's execution of pitches was really good,'' Molitor said. "He was economical. He pitch count was down. He just missed on a couple of 0-2 pitches.''
After taking the early 1-0 lead, the Twins mostly went quiet against Snell, who allowed five hits over seven innings. In the eighth, facing Andriese, Kepler and LaMarre led off with singles, but Dozier struck out and Joe Mauer hit into a double play.
The Twins had a great opportunity in the seventh when Robbie Grossman led off with a double, then was bunted to third by Eddie Rosario. Mitch Garver punched a soft popper that looked like it could fall in the shallow outfield, but Wendle sprinted for an over-the-shoulder catch, then pivoted and delivered a perfect throw home, keeping Grossman at third. Ehire Adrianza struck out, ending the threat.

The defeat marked the end of a solid road swing for Gibson. He had won four consecutive decisions on the road -- and the Twins had gone 6-0 in those starts -- dating back to Aug. 11.
Adrianza put on a clinic early with three excellent deep-in-the-hole plays. The most spectacular occurred in the third inning when he robbed Span of a hit. Adrianza dove to stop the ball, propped himself up by balancing on his right knee, then threw out Span on one hop, aided by a nifty scoop from Mauer.

"Snow and rain are going to play a lot of tricks on rotations. I touched the mound a few times [during the gap]. I told them, 'Whenever you need me to throw, I'll throw.' I felt good.''
-- Gibson, on his first appearance since April 11
Molitor can make some concrete plans after the Rays announced that rather than a "bullpen day," right-hander Yonny Chirinos (0-1, 2.70 ERA) will start Sunday's 12:10 p.m. CT contest. Minnesota will counter in the series finale with Hughes, who is making his first start this season after being out since March 29 with a left oblique strain.

Joey Johnston is a contributor to based in St. Petersburg.