SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants’ beautiful bayside ballpark looks and feels like no other, which is too bad. There was no way to convince Kyle Gibson he was back home in Target Field.
Gibson did something uncharacteristic Friday night, giving up a pair of long home runs to Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Hicks, but also continued a distressing pattern, too — getting rocked on the road. For the third time in four starts away from Minnesota, he gave up at least a run per inning, and the Giants walked away with a 6-2 victory in AT&T Park.
“I felt good. I felt like my pitches were there,” Gibson said after falling to 4-4 on the season. “I really got beat on just three pitches, which is the frustrating part.”
As good as Gibson has been at home, where his ERA stands at 2.25 this season, he has been ineffective on the road. Four of the five hits he gave up Friday went for extra bases, and by the time he was lifted for a pinch hitter after five innings, his road ERA had ballooned to 7.77.
Gibson did not give up a home run in his first six starts this season, but his season total grew from one to three here. The most damaging was Sandoval’s three-run shot in the first inning, a punctuation point on an odd inning that put the Twins in an early hole.
“It’s just poor execution,” Gibson said. “The guy who probably shouldn’t be the one to get me, got me.”
Manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game that Gibson is working on trying to stay away from big innings, but a handful of first-inning mistakes resulted in just the sort of damage Gardenhire feared. Angel Pagan led off with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Hunter Pence then hit a chopper to Trevor Plouffe at third. Plouffe looked Pagan back to the base, but in doing so, his throw to first base was a fraction of a second too late. (Pence was actually called out, but the Giants challenged the call and it was overturned.)
Buster Posey then hit what looked like a double-play ball to Plouffe, but Brian Dozier came off the base before Plouffe’s throw arrived and Pence was safe. Dozier then threw home and trapped Pagan in a rundown.
Perhaps the inning’s weirdness affected Gibson. His next pitch was letter-high and down the middle, and Sandoval came just 10 feet or so shy of making it the 67th homer to splash into McCovey Cove.
“We were going to go in and get under his hands,” Gibson said. “The funny part was all night, my two-seamer, I was trying to play with it just to get it to sink. Then a four-seamer that’s supposed to stay straight ended up [drifting] back over the middle.”
The Twins were in a hole, making it harder to take advantage of Tim Lincecum’s wildness. The two-time Cy Young Award winner walked six in six innings, but none of those free baserunners scored, as the Twins went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position against him. The Twins’ lone runs came in the third inning, when Dozier singled and Joe Mauer followed by lining a shot into a center-field nook, legging out his first triple since Sept. 23, 2012. Mauer then scored on Chris Parmelee’s ground out.
Defense cost Gibson another run, when Jason Kubel’s dive for Pagan’s blooper along the left-field line allowed the ball to roll to the wall for a triple. Pence drove in Pagan with a grounder that glanced off shortstop Eduardo Escobar’s glove for an error.
Brandon Hicks connected off Gibson in the fourth for his eighth home run, a blast deep into the left-field stands. San Francisco added a seventh-inning run when Brandon Crawford hit a triple that eluded Parmelee in right and scored on Hicks’ sacrifice fly.