FORT MYERS, FLA. – There were no players wearing No. 92 Sunday — numbers usually assigned to those with no chance to make a team.
Nope, both the Red Sox and Twins both used most of their starters with Opening Day only a week away.
So Kyle Gibson’s outing during a 7-2 loss to Boston was more impressive than his other spring training outings. With Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Pablo Sandoval digging in against him, Gibson showed that he just might be ready for the fake games to end and the real ones to begin.
Gibson pitched six shutout innings on four hits with four strikeouts Sunday, lowering his Grapefruit League ERA to 1.59. His breaking pitches were sharp as he cruised through Boston’s lineup.
“That’s a really good lineup,” Gibson said of Boston, which is without the recently retired David Ortiz. “They are going to score a lot of runs again. They grind out at-bats, which is really impressive.”
For a team that was unable to add any impact pitching help during the offseason, the Twins need Gibson to reach his potential. He was 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA last season, and the former first-round pick is 32-38 in his career. But he has modified his delivery and is seeing the results.
“Bottle it!” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s been a nice spring.”
Boston lefthander Chris Sale was just as sharp during his five-inning outing, yielding only six hits and a walk before exiting.
Ryan Pressly replaced Gibson in the seventh and gave up a three-run homer to Christian Vazquez as the Red Sox took a 3-1 lead.
Brian Dozier’s RBI single in the seventh made it 3-2, but Buddy Boshers — already a long shot to make the team — gave up a three-run homer to Steve Selsky and a solo blast to Andrew Benintendi in the eighth.
La Velle E. Neal III