MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson delivered his best start in nearly a month, and the Twins right-hander might have escaped with a scoreless outing had it not been for one mighty swing from Gary Sanchez.Gibson tossed 5 2/3 strong innings and kept the Twins in contention early against a Yankees offense
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson delivered his best start in nearly a month, and the Twins right-hander might have escaped with a scoreless outing had it not been for one mighty swing from Gary Sanchez.
Gibson tossed 5 2/3 strong innings and kept the Twins in contention early against a Yankees offense that entered Monday with an MLB-leading 232 homers. But his strong start had little impact on the final result, as New York's bats came to life in the seventh and pushed the Yankees to a 7-2 win in the opener of a three-game set at Target Field.
After enduring a rough month of August in which he recorded a 5.28 ERA over five starts, Gibson bounced back on Monday night and struck out five New York batters while inducing weak contact. He was one out away from exiting with his first scoreless appearance since May 29, but Sanchez sent a 2-2 fastball soaring 460 feet into the left-field upper deck to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
"When you get a pitch, and throw that pitch where you really wanted to ... when a guy puts a barrel on it, that just shows you it was the wrong pitch at the wrong time," Gibson said. "I really didn't throw enough changeups to righties tonight, and that probably was a great time for a changeup. We'd thrown quite a few pitches in to the righties, and sinkers in there, unfortunately just went to the well one too many times."
Sanchez's long ball was his 16th of the year and the longest homer hit at Target Field this season. The ball left Sanchez's bat at 110.8 mph, according to Statcast™.
As solid as Gibson was, Yankees starter J.A. Happ was even better, blanking the Twins for six innings. Happ did not surrender a walk and struck out three as he worked around six hits.
Minnesota had a chance to get to Happ early when Mitch Garver drilled a leadoff single in the second and Jake Cave added a one-out single. But Happ worked out of the jam by forcing Johnny Field and Gregorio Petit to fly out and end the inning.
"I think that's how he's been throwing," Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Happ. "He does a nice job pounding that ball down in the zone early, but he sure can elevate effectively. We had a lot of guys get under pitches at the top of the zone and hit some lazy fly balls. His changeup wasn't great tonight, but he pitched around that. The slider kind of came in the mix more the second time around. Once they got the lead, they got him out. We had a couple opportunities to get a knock with runners in scoring position, and we just couldn't find a way to get on the board to give Gibby any kind of a lead to work with."
Happ settled in from there, and the Yankees' offense broke through with plenty of run support in the seventh. Alan Busenitz issued walks to Andrew McCutchen and Aaron Hicks to begin the inning, and Miguel Andujar, Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius delivered consecutive run-scoring doubles. All told, the Yankees racked up six runs in the seventh off three pitchers to build a 7-0 lead.
"They've got some pretty good hitters down at the bottom of the lineup," Molitor said. "The guys at the top, McCutchen has been a good addition, obviously. And Aaron's having a really nice year. You look up and see he's got 80 walks, not to mention the 24 homers. He's a nice table setter. He finds ways to get on base, and then you've got the meat coming up. You walk the first two guys and you're playing with fire, and that's what happened to [Busenitz] tonight."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the fourth inning, Petit went full extension as he made a tremendous diving snag and followed with a throw to retire Sanchez at first for the second out of the inning.
HE SAID IT
"[Jake Odorizzi] even mentioned that was probably the most three-ball counts I'd been in all year. But [catcher Garver] did a good job of reining me in at times, and getting pitches to be executed at the right time, and I think that's what got the big outs when we needed them." -- Gibson, on battling control issues throughout his outing
Tyler Duffey will be Minnesota's "opener" on Tuesday (7:10 p.m. CT) against the Yankees, and he is expected to throw one or two innings before the Twins turn to their bullpen. Minnesota has deployed an opener twice this season but didn't find success on either occasion. Duffey, a 27-year-old righty, is 1-2 on the season with a 9.00 ERA in 14 appearances. For the Yankees, Sonny Gray (10-8, 4.96 ERA) will make a spot start.
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minnesota.