BALTIMORE – The end is near, Kyle Gibson says. He can feel it in his legs and his arm.
But he’s going to pitch in September for the first time next week, “and it’s something I’m going to have to get used to because I want to pitch into October at some point.”
Until then, he’ll keep trying to refine his game and learn to pitch out of trouble, as he did Saturday. The Twins eventually lost to the Orioles 3-2 — their sixth loss in the past seven games — but Gibson learned a lot from his pitch-to-pitch battle. The second-year righthander put runners in scoring position with less than two outs three times in five innings, but only once did it burn him. Jimmy Paredes hit a ground-rule double that Danny Santana couldn’t catch up to on the warning track in center field, “and I could have given up a big number that inning. I was pleased that I got out of it with only one run.”
Unfortunately, the Twins managed only two themselves, and relievers Brian Duensing (on a home run by Paredes) and Jared Burton (on a sacrifice fly to Chris Davis) gave up a run apiece, allowing the Orioles to stretch their lead to eight games over New York in the AL East.
Santana was playing deep on Davis’ decisive sac fly in the seventh, and had to run in at full speed to catch it, preventing him, manager Ron Gardenhire said, from setting himself fast enough to throw out Adam Jones at the plate and keep the score tied.
Gibson has now thrown 149 innings this season, less than four short of the career-high 152⅔ he threw in the majors and minors last year, and he knows he may have another five starts to go.
“For me, this is getting into uncharted territory, I’ve never been over 150 innings. To keep strong and stay healthy this last month is going to be important,” said Gibson, just three years removed from elbow-reconstruction surgery.
Teammate Mike Pelfrey told him “the first time you go through a sixth month in September, it’s tough, but after that, it gets easier. I’m going to focus on keeping my body maintained and strength in my legs and see where it goes.”
Houston claims Deduno
Samuel Deduno was in the lobby of the Twins’ hotel Saturday afternoon, waiting to board the bus to Camden Yards, when Ron Gardenhire pulled him aside with some surprising news: He’s now a Houston Astro.
“It was one of those shockers. He didn’t expect it, and he really likes it [with the Twins],” Gardenhire said. “Classy kid. It was sad to have to tell him that he had been claimed.”
Claimed off irrevocable waivers, as it turns out, the Twins’ way of clearing a spot on their 40-man roster with roster expansion coming Monday. The Twins will replace Deduno with lefthanded reliever Aaron Thompson, who had posted a 3.59 ERA in 52 innings at Class AAA Rochester this season.
Why Thompson? He’s held lefthanded batters to a .200 average, a .284 on-base percentage and a .250 slugging percentage — only one extra-base hit all season — for the Red Wings.
“We talked about a lefty that was getting lefties out,” Gardenhire said. “He’s having a pretty good year down there. … As you’ve seen, our lefties are having a little bit of trouble.”
Lefthanders have been hitting .247 against Brian Duensing, and .281 against Caleb Thielbar, the bullpen’s current lefthanders, making Gardenhire’s options limited in crucial situations.
It’s Thompson’s second chance in the big leagues. Originally drafted by the Marlins out of high school in the first round in 2005, he pitched in four games, including one start, for the Pirates in 2011 but was hit hard, posting an ERA of 7.04. Thompson, 27, was released by the Pirates and signed by the Twins that winter.
For the 31-year-old Deduno, it’s a disappointing end to a Minnesota career that showed such promise when he started out 4-0 in 2012, holding batters to a .189 average and putting up a 2.67 ERA over that stretch. But while he struck out 20 during that hot streak, he walked 22.
“The whole thing with Sammy was, when he was able to throw the ball over the plate, he was very successful, because everything moves,” Gardenhire said. “He’s kind of scuffled as of late with the strike zone.”
Meyer exits game early
Alex Meyer, rated as the top pitching prospect in the Twins’ system, “couldn’t get loose” while pitching for Class AAA Rochester on Saturday, a Twins official said, and was removed from the after recording only four outs. The move was “precautionary,” Twins director of minor leagues Brad Steil said via text.
The outing was likely Meyer’s final one of 2014, since the International League regular season ends on Monday. Meyer, generally limited to 80-85 pitches all season after suffering a shoulder injury in 2013, had been a candidate for promotion to the major leagues when rosters expand next month, but that’s unlikely after he faced only six batters in his final start against Buffalo.
Meyer, whose fastball is normally clocked at 95 mph or above, was hitting only 90 mph during his brief start.