HOUSTON – Mitch Garver set up for fastball on the four spot — down and away — in the first inning Monday. But Kyle Gibson left it over the middle of the plate for Alex Bregman to bash into the seats in left.
A first-pitch curveball to Yuli Gurriel hung over the middle of the plate in the fourth inning. That one, too, was blasted out to left for a another solo home run.
Those were two big mistakes by Gibson and a reason why the Twins were Labor Day losers to the Astros, falling 4-1 for their eighth loss in 11 games. But there was far more good to Gibson’s performance than bad. Houston did score two runs off him in the second, but one was fueled by a Jorge Polanco error on a ball that came up on the shortstop a little bit.
For the most part, Gibson was crisp, getting 12 ground-ball outs and retiring the last 11 Houston hitters he faced after Gurriel’s home run — striking out the final two hitters in the seventh inning to finish his outing with authority.
“I thought Gibby had a good day,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “A couple homers, we didn’t field the ball cleanly on a tough play.”
Gibson now has pitched at least seven innings 10 times this season, second on the team only to Jose Berrios, who has 12. It was only the second time a Twins starter had pitched six innings, let alone seven, over their past 16 games.
Gibson gave up four runs, two earned, on four hits and one walk while striking out five Monday. He falls to 7-12 on the season, but that record doesn’t reflect how he has thrown the ball for most of 2018.
“Garv and I were on the same page all day, mixing up the sequences and knowing when they were going to be aggressive first-pitch,” Gibson said. “But like you said, I was hurt by the 2-1 heater by Bregman and executed a poor breaking ball 0-0 to Gurriel. Other than that, it was pretty good.”
Unfortunately for the Twins, falling behind early — with the lineup they had Monday — was too much to overcome. Houston lefthander Dallas Keuchel held the Twins to one unearned run on five hits and two walks over six innings before handing off to the bullpen. Collin McHugh struck out five batters over the next two innings. With 13 strikeouts Monday, the Twins have reached double digits in strikeouts 47 times this season — 13 or more eight times.
The Twins loaded the bases in the ninth. With a chance to atone for his error, Polanco struck out swinging against Brad Peacock to end the game.
The final callups
The Twins called up righthanders Chase De Jong and John Curtiss and infielder Gregorio Petit from Class AAA Rochester to complete their list of September promotions. The Twins waited until the Red Wings completed their season before summoning the trio.
De Jong was acquired from Seattle as part of the Zach Duke trade on July 30. Petit, who played 12 games for the Twins earlier this seaon, returned to the 40-man roster, with the Twins moving Logan Morrison to the 60-day disabled list to make room for him.
The Twins looked at other pitchers, such as Nick Anderson, from Brainerd High School, and Jake Reed. Molitor said he felt the team had enough righthanders.
Reliever Matt Belisle said he plans to appeal any fine by the league after being ejected Sunday for allegedly hitting Texas’ Adrian Beltre on purpose.
Belisle was tossed in the sixth inning of an 18-4 loss to the Rangers. It was his first game since being activated from the disabled list. While he recovered, he worked on a different arm slot to add movement to his pitches.
He told the home plate umpire that his arm angle dropped and the ball ran away from him.
“I can’t believe that happened,” Belisle said, “but it happened.”