CHICAGO – In New York, Kyle Gibson took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and the Twins lost anyway. So it’s only fair that Sunday, his opponent no-hit the Twins into the seventh inning, and they still managed to win.
James Shields, making his 25th career start against the Twins, retired the first 16 hitters he faced and didn’t give up a hit until Eduardo Escobar waited on a slow curveball with one out in the seventh inning and served it into right field.
“He was throwing all different angles, back and forth, up and down, changing speeds. He was tough,” said Joe Mauer, who went 0-for-3 vs. Shields. “I told the guys, that was a good battle, a good fight. Both guys were throwing the ball well, Gibby and Shields.”
Gibson wasn’t as perfect as Shields, but he wasn’t far off. He gave up only two hits over the first five innings, though Adam Engel, who doubled, scored on a two-out wild pitch to Jose Abreu.
“I tried to force it down too much. Abreu is a guy who loves the ball down and in. For me, it’s kind of a danger zone down there,” Gibson said. “But sometimes I’m able to get him to swing at pitches outside of that nitro zone for him, and unfortunately forced that one down and put [catcher Bobby Wilson, making his Twins debut] in a really tough spot. It cost us a run.”
Gibson didn’t give up much else, though. Yolmer Sanchez doubled to open the sixth inning and scored on a sacrifice fly, and Gibson was charged with a third run when Zach Duke gave up a tying two-out RBI single to Leury Garcia in the seventh. But Gibson struck out eight, gave up only four hits and was happy with his outing.
“They showed early they were going to be aggressive. I talked to Bobby before the game [and said], ‘We’ll see how aggressive these guys are and that will kind of dictate what we’re going to do,’ ” Gibson said. “We had a pretty good plan coming in and Bobby did a good job making adjustments when we needed to.”
Logan Morrison did outfielder drills with coach Jeff Pickler during batting practice Saturday. You could tell how long it had been since he had been out there just by looking at his bright-blue-with-gold-laces glove.
“Yeah, Rays colors, right?” Morrison said. “I’ve had it awhile. But it needs to be broken in.”
That’s because Morrison never actually played the outfield at Tampa Bay; he hasn’t stood in the outfield since 2015 when he was with Seattle, and hasn’t done so as his primary position since 2012 with Miami. But he went to Twins manager Paul Molitor recently and volunteered to go back out there if Molitor needed to make a switch during a game.
“It’s a long summer of baseball. People get hurt. Some days you get a little shorthanded,” Molitor said. With the Twins headed to St. Louis, where the designated hitter won’t be in use, Morrison wanted the manager to know he can still make himself useful.
“It makes the lineup more flexible. I don’t think I’m going to be Willie Mays out there, but I can pick it up and throw it to the right base,” Morrison said. “I just wanted to get some work out there so he doesn’t hesitate if the need arises.”
Sunday’s game was Morrison’s ninth start at first base, and he wouldn’t mind being on the field more. This is the first season of Morrison’s eight-year career in which he’s primarily been the DH, with 17 starts so far.
“It’s definitely an adjustment, one I’m still looking to make. To be honest, I’d rather feel like I’m part of the game, playing the outfield, instead of DH-ing all the time,” Morrison said. “I’m not saying that I’m not [happy] at DH, but it’s half the game, playing defense.”
Morrison joined Fernando Rodney on the mound for the closer’s characteristic arrow launch pantomime after the final out, something he said he used to do when they were teammates in Seattle. So where did Rodney, who earned his fifth save on the season, shoot that arrow?
“Between the white and blue flag [next to the scoreboard] today,” Morrison said. “All the guys wanted me to go up there and ask him. Figured I’d oblige.”