Two strong outings for Kyle Gibson against the Yankees — and two ugly losses.
The Twins righthander went toe-to-toe with New York lefthander J.A. Happ on Monday, darting, ducking, diving and dodging through a dangerous Yankees lineup, until Gary Sanchez hit an ankle-high heater into the third deck at Target Field in the sixth inning for a solo homer.
Once Gibson left, and the seal was broken on the bullpen, the Yankees pounced with a six-run seventh inning and pulled away to a 7-2 victory at Target Field.
“Kyle fought; there’s no question about it,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He had a few situations he had to pitch around, including some free passes, but he did well. I was proud of him for how he hung in there.”
But the Yankees’ domination of the Twins continues. Including last year’s AL wild-card game, New York has won the past nine meetings between the teams. It’s the first eight-game regular-season winning streak the Yankees have had against an opponent since … the Twins, that one from 2015 to ’16. The Yankees are 20-4 vs. the Twins since July 25, 2015, and they look primed to win some more this week as they roll into the postseason.
On April 26 at Yankee Stadium, Gibson set a career high with 10 strikeouts while tossing six shutout innings. That game ended disastrously for the Twins, as Sanchez hit a walk-off three-run homer off Fernando Rodney for a 4-3 victory.
So, in two starts against the Yankees and all their burly hitters, Gibson has given up one earned run over 11⅔ innings while striking out 15. And the Twins have lost both games.
Gibson never had a clean inning Monday, as he stranded a runner on base in each of the first four innings. He stranded two in the fifth, as New York went 0-for-6 against him with runners in scoring position.
Then Gibson was one strike away from completing six innings when Sanchez connected on a pitch low enough to be on a golf tee.
“When you get a pitch, and throw that pitch where you really wanted to — which that pitch, really, was,” Gibson said, “when a guy puts a barrel on it, that just shows you it was the wrong pitch at the wrong time.
“I really didn’t throw enough changeups to righties tonight, and that probably was a great time for a changeup. We’d thrown quite a few pitches in to the righties, and sinkers in there, unfortunately just went to the well one too many times.”
Gibson really wasn’t impressed with his outing. He gave up four hits and walked four, so his line justified his concern.
“I still felt pretty good,” he said. “I’m glad Molitor let me go out for the sixth and gave me that chance to get [Greg] Bird after that [home run], too, but it was definitely a battle tonight. Command went in and out. Bad combination of a team that was pretty patient from the get-go, and command going in and out; that will normally probably result in more than four walks.”
New York poured it on after Gibson left, drawing two walks before Miguel Andujar hit a two-run double off Alan Busenitz in the seventh. That was the start of a six-run inning, with Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius also hitting RBI doubles.
“You walk the first two guys and you’re playing with fire,” Molitor said, “and that’s what happened to [Busenitz].”