CHICAGO — It’s a day game after a night game today, so as is customary, the backup catcher is in the lineup. And in this case, with Jason Castro on the disabled list and Mitch Garver now the everyday starter, Bobby Wilson gets his first chance to play for the Twins.
It’s a particularly good day for it, Twins manager Paul Molitor said before the game, because sinkerball specialist Kyle Gibson gets the start in the finale of this four-game series with the White Sox.
“He’s a veteran guy. He’s certainly a really good receiver,” Molitor said of Wilson, an eight-year big-league veteran. “Bobby has a lot of strengths. The bottom of the [strike] zone is one of his strengths, which is a good matchup for Gibby.”
Gibson’s 3.38 ERA is the best among the Twins’ starting pitchers, and he’s only given up two runs and six hits over his last 11 innings, and he’s struck out 16. Yet the Twins have lost Gibson’s last three starts — a surprising turnaround, given that they had won 11 straight Gibson starts immediately before this skid. The fact that the Twins have scored only eight runs in his last three starts probably accounts for some of that as well.
“We’ve seen Kyle at times get on pretty good runs. He’s been throwing it over better. His mix has been good,” Molitor said. “He’s been unpredictable in his patterns of pitching — all things that tend to lead to being successful.”
The Twins have been successful, in general, against White Sox starter James Shields; Minnesota has won six of the last nine games Shields has started against them.
Joe Mauer will lead off for the third straight day; given that the Twins are 2-0 with the veteran atop the lineup, that’s no surprise. Mauer has reached base five times in those two games, raising his on-base percentage to .440. That’s second only to Mike Trout’s .447 in the American League — pretty heady company.