OAKLAND, Calif. – Kyle Gibson crumbled in the fifth inning Friday night, giving up four runs mostly by walking three batters. So Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson debated whether to send him out for the sixth.
They did. They regret it.
Gibson put the first two batters on, they both scored, and the Twins ended up losing to Oakland by one run, 6-5 — their 11th loss in a row to to the American League West-leading Athletics.
“It ended up costing us the game,” Gibson said of his two-batter sixth: a four-pitch walk to Josh Reddick and a single to Stephen Vogt, both of whom later scored when Eric Sogard doubled off Anthony Swarzak. “To put the team in a bad spot, to put Gardy in a bad spot, it’s pretty frustrating.”
The whole night was frustrating for the Twins, who didn’t get a hit off A’s starter Scott Kazmir until the fifth inning, and who sent the minimum 18 batters to the plate through six. Then they rallied for five runs — but couldn’t get one more.
Gardenhire said they had good intentions in extending Gibson’s night. But it didn’t work out.
“We think this guy is going to be one of the really good ones, so we sent him back out, hoping he could just have a good inning and throw that [bad one] out,” Gardenhire said after the Twins lost to Kazmir for the fifth time in 16 months. “He needs to go out and regroup and have an inning, but the first two guys got on again. So that’s my bad for putting him back out there. “
And Gibson’s for losing track of the plate — he walked a season-high five batters, matching his total for all of July.
“It’s embarrassing to go out there and pitch five innings and walk that many guys,” he said after raising his ERA to 4.13. “Four runs on two hits, it’s unacceptable.”
The big hit belonged to Coco Crisp, who belted a 2-2 fastball to the right-field wall with the bases loaded, a three-run triple that put the A’s ahead for good.
It was a disappointing finish for a game that looked like a rout for most of the night. But just when the Twins appeared comfortable with their three-batters-an-inning pace, they rose up an turned a rout into cliffhanger, a Coliseum celebration into a thrill ride. The Twins abruptly ended a 19-inning scoreless streak with a five-run uprising against Kazmir.
Trevor Plouffe singled home the Twins’ first run, and Oswaldo Arcia the second. And with two outs and Kazmir appearing to have restored order, Chris Parmelee broke a personal 3-for-40 skid with runners in scoring position by slicing a sharp line drive down the left-field line. Parmelee’s double scored two runs, and when left fielder Brandon Moss had trouble corralling the ball and then threw wildly to the infield, Parmelee took third base.
He scored moments later, too, when Eduardo Nunez greeted reliever Ryan Cook by smacking a double — a hit to the right-field wall that Nunez tried to stretch to three bases, then fell face-first halfway between second and third. He jumped up, retreated and beat the ball by a split second.
The inning ended there as Cook struck out Jordan Schafer on three pitches, but it was an impressive uprising against a starting pitcher who has owned the Twins for two years now.
A’s reliever Sean Doolittle gave up a leadoff single in the ninth inning to Kennys Vargas, but he struck out Arcia, got Kurt Suzuki to fly out and struck out pinch hitter Josh Willingham — one pitch after a long drive to left went foul — to earn his 18th save.