Kyle Gibson has made 12 starts since he last earned a victory for the Twins, which sounds like an indictment for a pitcher, unless you have seen the games.
Gibson’s last victory came March 31 at Baltimore, two days after the season opener, but Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Angels at Target Field was another example of a strong performance going unrewarded.
Gibson (1-4) withstood a four-hour rain delay and finished seven innings with a career-high 118 pitches, lowering his ERA to 3.45. His only blemishes were bases-empty home runs by Ian Kinsler and Albert Pujols.
But the Twins couldn’t solve Los Angeles lefthander Tyler Skaggs (5-4), who also tossed seven innings, as the Angels extended their winning streak to six. The Twins fell to 3-13 in one-run games and 5-5 on this 11-game homestand.
“We’ll start being on the right side of these games, like I’ve been saying,” Gibson said. “We’ve just been running into some pitchers throwing the ball well and caught a couple tough breaks offensively.”
Gibson also pitched scoreless outings at Yankee Stadium (April 26) and Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium (May 29) without getting a victory. The latter was one of four losses in late May for the Twins in which they scored only one run, and they lost Friday’s series opener to the Angels 4-2.
“These losses are frustrating,” manager Paul Molitor said. “You have a really nice series last weekend [taking three of four from Cleveland], and you haven’t been able to back it up.”
Gibson overcame a shaky third inning, when Kinsler homered with two outs and the next two batters walked. With reliever Matt Magill warming, Pujols took a called third strike on Gibson’s 35th and final pitch of the inning.
Pujols struck back in the sixth, drilling his 623rd career homer into the left-field second deck. That gave Pujols 1,951 RBI, tying him with fellow former Cardinals great Stan Musial for sixth on the all-time list.
“Unfortunately, I just made the wrong pitch at the wrong time,” Gibson said, “and Albert did what Albert does.”
The Twins cut the lead in half that inning, as good baserunning led to a run. Eddie Rosario went from first to third on a seeing-eye single to left by Robbie Grossman. Max Kepler then hit into an inning-ending double play, but Rosario scored anyway because Grossman got into a rundown after Kepler was forced out.
“As an offense, we’ve got to do a better job,” Grossman said. “But that was a tough game today. A couple of things go our way and the game changes.”
Molitor noted the poor execution in the fifth inning, when Ehire Adrianza hit a leadoff double, only to be stranded at second. Ryan LaMarre grounded to the pitcher, and Bobby Wilson flied out to right field before Brian Dozier struck out.
Gibson started the seventh with 103 pitches, but Molitor let him get three more outs.
“I’m thankful for that,” Gibson said. “Those are the innings where I want to be the guy that can go out there and get seven, and even when the pitch count’s high and try to give the bullpen a break. They’ve been working really hard down there.”
Gibson’s performance was small consolation for a team that fell to 27-34. The Twins will send rookie righthander Fernando Romero to the mound Sunday, hoping to avoid an Angels sweep — and a losing homestand.