BOSTON -- As Kyle Gibson finished up the eighth inning, his seventh straight frame without giving up a hit to the Red Sox, he did his best to avoid Twins manager Paul Molitor in the Fenway Park dugout.
Gibson, who was at 96 pitches, wanted to go back out for the ninth, but he knew his manager was likely to turn to closer Brandon Kintzler to protect a one-run lead. Molitor quickly decided to go with Kintzler, and it nearly backfired after he loaded the bases with nobody out with David Ortiz coming to the plate. But Kintzler somehow wriggled his way out of the jam with the help of a double play with the infield in to help preserve a 2-1 win for the Twins and an outstanding performance from Gibson.
"You get down to the end there and you have to make the decision if you want to give Gibby a chance, but I went with our closer," Molitor said. "It kind of came down to it being a long night even though his pitch count was still reasonable. If it was a two-run game, it might've been different."
Molitor, though, still called Gibson the "story of the game," and praised him for his impressive effort. He gave up a leadoff homer to Mookie Betts on the second pitch of the game and found himself in a first-inning jam with two on and nobody out, but retired 14 straight from there.
Gibson's sinker was on -- he was helped by double plays in the first and sixth innings -- but he also mixed in 18 curves, 17 changeups and 16 sliders to keep Boston's hitters off balance. He was eying his second career complete game, but said he understood Molitor's decision.
"I felt my pitch count was good enough and I was strong enough to go back out there," Gibson said. "I definitely wanted to go back out, but I respect that guy a lot. I don't know if I have enough years under my belt to demand the ninth inning."
While the Red Sox managed two hits against Gibson, and none after the first, they quickly put together two singles against Kintzler in the ninth. Xander Bogaerts worked an 11-pitch walk to set the stage for Ortiz, which put the Fenway crowd in a frenzy.
Pitching coach Neil Allen made a mound visit, and in his typical enthusiastic tone, told Kintzler that with Ortiz coming to the plate it was a "double-play dream." Kintzler took heed and attacked Ortiz with outside fastballs, getting him to roll one over to Brian Dozier, who was able to throw home to turn the double play. Hanley Ramirez followed with a lineout to right, and the Houdini act was complete for Kintzler.
"It's big moments right there," Kintzler said. "It's fun. That's why you play the game. It's not like I drew it up like that. It's just one of those moments where he's gonna beat me or I'm going beat him, but I'm going to give it all I got."