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Twins can't capitalize on Gibson's strong start

Right-hander throws season-high 118 pitches, strikes out 5 in 7 innings
June 9, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson tossed a season-high 118 pitches and delivered seven innings of two-run baseball on Saturday, but the effort wasn't enough to get him off the hook for a loss.Gibson and the Twins fell, 2-1, to the Angels at Target Field as Los Angeles locked up a series

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson tossed a season-high 118 pitches and delivered seven innings of two-run baseball on Saturday, but the effort wasn't enough to get him off the hook for a loss.
Gibson and the Twins fell, 2-1, to the Angels at Target Field as Los Angeles locked up a series win. Saturday marked the eighth time this season that Gibson left a start having surrendered two runs or fewer.
But it has been more than two full months since the right-hander last added to his tally in the win column. Gibson's last win came in his first start of the season -- on March 31, when he tossed six scoreless innings against the Orioles.
"I told [manager Paul Molitor] I was feeling good, and they let me go back out there," Gibson said. "Thankful for that. Those are the innings where I want to be the guy that can go out there and get seven, even when the pitch count's high, and try to give the bullpen a break. They've been working really hard down there, and to be able to finish seven innings, it feels good, and unfortunately we just couldn't come up with a couple runs there at the end.
"But we'll start being on the right side of these games like I've been saying. We've just been running into some pitchers throwing the ball well and caught a couple tough breaks offensively."

Gibson's absence from the win column this season isn't inherently due to a lack of run support; entering Friday, Gibson had received the 25th-lowest amount of run support in the Majors. Per FanGraphs, he is receiving 4.09 runs of support per nine innings. While that isn't spectacular, it is also much higher than the 3.18 runs per nine that teammate Jake Odorizzi receives.
But Minnesota wasn't able to back Gibson on Saturday, and the Angels made him pay for a pair of mistakes. Ian Kinsler got the Angels on the board in the third inning when he lifted Gibson's 2-2 slider over the left-field fence for a two-out homer. Kinsler's solo-shot had just a 10 percent chance of being a home run, according to Statcast™.
The ball left Kinsler's bat at 92 miles per-hour. Only 13 other homers in the Majors this season have come with an exit velocity lower than Kinsler's did -- two of those were inside-the-park homers.
Gibson followed by issuing walks to Michael Trout and Justin Upton, but battled back to strike out Jose Pujols looking to escape further trouble.
The Angels doubled their lead in the sixth inning when Pujols launched a 405-foot solo homer of his own into the second deck in left field. It was Pujols' ninth homer of the season and 623rd of his career. It also moved him up to a tie for seventh on the all-time RBI list; he is now even with Stan Musial with 1,951 apiece.

"Unfortunately, the one pitch to Pujols kind of came back to bite me there," Gibson said. "I was trying to go in on him, and we had talked in the dugout, me and [Bobby Wilson] talked about maybe it was time to go in on some of these guys. They were really spitting on some good sliders and good fastballs away. Unfortunately, I just made the wrong pitch at the wrong time and Albert did what Albert does, he did a really good job on that pitch."
Minnesota got on the board in the bottom of the sixth after Eddie Rosario lined a leadoff single, then went first-to-third on Robbie Grossman's single through the left side of the infield. Max Kepler followed with a sharp grounder to first, and Los Angeles first baseman Jose Fernandez tagged his bag and then worked Grossman into a rundown. Rosario managed to score from third before Zack Cozart tagged out Grossman to end the inning.

Matching Gibson pitch for pitch was Angels starter Tyler Skaggs, who tossed seven innings and struck out eight Minnesota batters, including the final three that he faced.
"Good curveball," Molitor said of Skaggs. "He didn't give in. A lot of 3-2 offspeed pitches. We didn't center up too many balls overall off him. He can change around a little, for sure. He'll throw you 88 to start the at-bat and finish you off with 93. He's got a little bit in there, but I thought the curveball was particularly effective."
Los Angeles nearly pushed its lead to 3-1 in the eighth, but Rosario threw out Upton at the plate from left field to end the inning and save a run. After Trevor Hildenberger and Zach Duke each tossed a scoreless inning, Miguel Sano reached on a two-out single before Angels reliever Richard Parker got Jake Cave swinging to end the game.
Rosario throws out Upton: In the top of the eighth, Pujols lined a single to left that sent Upton charging home from second base. Rosario fielded the ball in shallow left and came up throwing. He fired a perfect strikes to Wilson at home, and Wilson applied the tag to end the inning.

The Twins will close out their three-game set with the Angels in Sunday's finale, which is set to begin at 1:10 p.m. CT. Fernando Romero will take the mound for the Twins in search of his second consecutive strong outing. Romero faced the Angels in Los Angeles on May 13, in what was just his third career Major League start, and held them to one run on four hits over five innings. Romero will square off with Nick Tropeano, who allowed three runs in six innings vs. the Twins on May 12.

Jarrid Denney is a reporter for based in Minneapolis.