KANSAS CITY -- The Twins often seem to find themselves on the wrong side of one-run games and walk-offs this season and it was again the case on Tuesday night.Right-hander Kyle Gibson was impressive, throwing seven scoreless innings, but reliever Addison Reed couldn't hold a one-run lead in the eighth
KANSAS CITY -- The Twins often seem to find themselves on the wrong side of one-run games and walk-offs this season and it was again the case on Tuesday night.
Right-hander Kyle Gibson was impressive, throwing seven scoreless innings, but reliever Addison Reed couldn't hold a one-run lead in the eighth and Taylor Rogers served up a walk-off homer to Alcides Escobar with two out in the 14th inning in a 2-1 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. It was Minnesota's eighth walk-off loss of the year and the Twins fell to 3-11 in one-run games. The club has already tied a team record by surrendering six walk-off homers.
It's hard to explain," manager Paul Molitor said. "I don't know if I've ever seen so many in a relatively short span. We kind of put ourselves in that situation by not scoring once again. It's the way you lost, but there are certainly a lot of things up to that point we could have done better to give ourselves a better chance."
The Twins went 15-18 in one-run games last season en route to the American League Wild Card Game and Gibson said he believes it'll even out and won't be a defining trait this year like it was in '16, when they went 15-29 in one-run contests and lost 103 games.
"Sometimes you can kind of tell that's identity to a club if you lose a lot of close games," Gibson said. "I don't think that's the fact here. I think we've got a good club that grinds out a lot of games, and I don't think by the end of the year you're going to see us with a lot of tough losses in one-run games."
The winning homer was the first hit by either team in extra innings and it came after Reed walked Jorge Soler with the bases loaded for the tying run with one out in the eighth, handing Gibson another tough-luck no-decision. Gibson, who scattered five hits and a walk, lowered his ERA to 3.57 in 11 starts, but he still hasn't picked up a win since his season debut.
"I'm not worried about wins and losses," Gibson said of his 1-3 record. "I worry more about losses honestly than wins. I'm just trying to keep the team in the game. As long as you're not getting losses, that means your team is in the game for the most part."
Gibson also used the strikeout to his advantage yet again, logging eight to give him 66 strikeouts in 63 innings this year. Gibson's previous career-best for strikeouts per nine innings was 6.9 set last year, but he has been above 9.0 throughout this season. His slider has been a major reason for his improved whiff percentage, as he registered seven swings and misses with it against the Royals.
He found himself in a pair of jams in the fifth and sixth innings, but Gibson pitched his way out of both. The Royals had two on with two out in the fifth, but Gibson struck out Whit Merrifield on a slider to end the inning. In the sixth, Mike Moustakas doubled to open the frame and reached third on a wild pitch with one out, but Gibson recorded a big strikeout of Soler on a sinker for the second out.
As has been the case throughout the season, Gibson didn't receive much run support, as the offense mostly scuffled against lefty Danny Duffy, who entered with a 6.14 ERA. The lone run came in the third on an RBI single from Miguel Sano with the bases loaded. But James Dozier was thrown out by left fielder Alex Gordon at home as he tried to score from second on the play, which halted the potential rally.
The Twins had the chance to retake the lead in the ninth after a leadoff single from Mitch Garver and with Byron Buxton serving as a pinch-runner. But Buxton was bunted over to second and did not score. Minnesota also loaded the bases in the 10th after three straight walks with two out, but Buxton flied out to left to end the inning.
"We held on for a long time, we just couldn't generate any offense," Molitor said. "Just another one that you put in the 'difficult to swallow' category."
Entering Tuesday, Gibson's slider had the highest whiff rate of any pitch from a Major League starter this season, according to Statcast™. Gibson entered with a 65.3 swinging strike percentage on his slider, topping Shohei Ohtani's 60.3 percent whiff rate on his splitter. Gibson threw 31 sliders against the Royals, getting seven swinging strikes and seven called strikes, while seven sliders were put in play.
HE SAID IT
"We're having conversations already, trying to see what we need to do to protect ourselves tomorrow. I really can't make any announcements, because we're still floating a few ideas, we'll have to clarify that tomorrow." -- Molitor, on the potential of making a roster move to bring up a reliever before Wednesday's game
Twins rookie right-hander Fernando Romero (2-1, 1.88 ERA) will make his sixth career start in the series finale against the Royals on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Romero is coming off a tough-luck loss against the Mariners, allowing two runs over seven innings. Right-hander Brad Keller (1-1, 1.77) will start for Kansas City.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.