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La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Gibson returns to Twins, faces Orioles and MLB-best home record

    BALTIMORE — Welcome to Camden Yards, where the Twins haven’t won since 2015 and the Orioles own the best home record in baseball. This is a one-city road trip, but one is plenty when the challenge is this big.

    Baltimore is 15-4 in its beautiful, scenic ballpark, and had an eight-game home winning streak broken up on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Twins are off to one of their best road starts in years, going 11-5 and having won six of their last seven. 

    “We’ve had a good start to our road season. It’s not something I try to overthink,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “But it doesn’t come easy, and you don’t get too comfortable. And now we come into a place where your opponent plays really well at home.”

    Kyle Gibson, sporting a freshly shaved buzz cut, met the team when it arrived here late last night. He’s been recalled from Class AAA Rochester, where he allowed four runs in 12 1/3 innings and struck out 18.

    “Kyle had an impressive spring for us. Strike throwing and aggressiveness — we saw it in spades in spring training, but it disappeared early on at the start of the year,” Molitor said. “But he’s making a conscious effort to get back to that approach. His starts in Rochester spoke to that. Now he’s got to figure out how to carry it over and get big league hitters out.”

    Gibson is making his first major-league start since May 4, and knows there’s an opportunity here to recapture the rotation spot he lost with an 8.20 ERA in his first six starts.

    That’s because Phil Hughes was officially put on the disabled list today. The official reason was inflammation in his right biceps, which is good news for the Twins, who feared a more serious shoulder problem. Hughes will be out at least 10 days and perhaps a little longer, but it doesn’t sound like a longterm problem.

    Rain was in the forecast, and the possibility of a shower exists, but that shouldn’t amount to more than a delay.

    Here are the lineups for the first of three games at Camden Yards, where the Twins went 0-3 last year:

TWINS    

 

Dozier 2B

Grossman LF

Mauer 1B

Sano 3B

Kepler RF

Escobar DH

Polanco SS

Castro C

Buxton CF

 

Gibson RHP

 

ORIOLES

 

Smith RF

Jones CF

Machado 3B

Trumbo DH

Davis 1B

Castillo C

Mancini LF

School 2B

Hardy SS

 

Jimenez RHP

Postgame: Hughes struggled before injury; why Vargas was lifted in opener

Some tidbits after the Twins split two games against the Royals:

Paul Molitor has to be pleased that he got through two doubleheaders in four days while needing just  seven relievers in the four games. He needed three for the two games against Colorado, then four on Sunday against the Royals. Adam Wilk being able to go 3.2 innings in relief of Phil Hughes in the first game was significant.

Tough break for Hughes if he, indeed is having problems with his shoulder again. But I wonder if he was having problems before Sunday that he brushed off as regular soreness? Only because he hasn't pitched well for three consecutive outings now. The Twins really don't have enough starting pitching inventory to deal with injuries. Aldalberto Mejia pitched fairly well on Sunday - there was some hard contact - and should get another chance. Kyle Gibson has to prove he's a changed man when he faces Baltimore on Monday. He can no longer be the nibbler. Boy, Ryan Vogelsong would have been way in the rotation now if he hadn't asked for his release during spring training.

 

 

Salvador Perez continued his assault on Target Field. He hit three homers in the two games to give him 13, second only to Jose Bautista's 14. Perez now is batting .360 at Target Field with 14 homers and 39 RBI in 52 games.

Some followers on Twitter went bonkers when Eduardo Escobar pinch hit for Kennys Vargas in the seventh inning of game one, but it was sound strategy. Lefthander Matt Strahm was on the mound, and Escobar  was batting .344 against lefties in contrast to Vargas' .095 average. It looked bad in the ninth when Escobar had to face Kelvin Herrera with the game on the line and Molitor out of options.

Back to the hard contact against Mejia. Two hard hit balls were in the sixth. Eric Hosmer sent a liner that Max Kepler broke in perfectly on and made a sliding catch. Perez followed with a drive to right-center that made Kepler sprint back before making a leaping catch. "He made a great read on the ball he came in on and had good field presence as far as the ability to leap and make that catch at the wall," Molitor said. 

Let me tell you about the pressbox today. The windows have been closed all week because the weather has been crappy. So every word bounces around there like it's a library. Sid Hartman stayed from the first pitch of game one to the last pitch of game two - and got louder as the evening went. During the seventh inning stretch of the second game, he started yelling at me that I was the, "Kiss of Death," and that the reason The Sports Show was canceled was because I joined and drove down the ratings. I don't know where Sid gets this stuff from. I really can't believe he lasted both games. The 96-year-old man is a tank.

(Editor's note: Sid is actually 97.)

6:05 PM (FSN)
Minnesota 22-18
Baltimore 25-17

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