Twins' gloves shine to back up Gibson
JUPITER, Fla. – Kyle Gibson on Thursday looked sharp on the mound, but he needed a little help from his defense.
Several Twins players made nice defensive plays behind Gibson, enabling him to pitch five strong innings during the Twins' 2-1 loss to St. Louis. Gibson gave up one run on one hit, a Jedd Gyorko home run in the fourth, to lower his spring training ERA to 2.08.
Gyorko's homer was about the only ball that wasn't caught by someone. Outfielders Danny Santana, J.B. Shuck and Zack Granite all made nice plays, with Shuck racing in to make a diving catch of Kolten Wong's sinking fly in the first and, two batters later, Santana racing to the wall in left to haul in Gyorko's drive.
Third baseman Ehire Adrianza dived to his right in the fifth to grab a grounder hit by Paul Dejong and throw him out — the final out of Gibson's outing.
"Our outfield got a lot of work today," Gibson said. "I was throwing some four-seamers [fastballs], and they were elevating them. The outfield made some really good plays. And, man, it ended up with Adrianza making a great play down the line. I thought it was a for sure double."
Gibson threw 62 pitches, 40 for strikes. He went to the bullpen after the fifth inning and threw another 13 pitches so he could be at 75 for the day.
Tommy Field's RBI single in the sixth accounted for the Twins' only run. Randal Grichuk's walk-off single down the right-field line off Drew Rucinski with the bases loaded in the ninth won the game for the Cardinals.
WBC wreaks 'havoc'
The Twins have been informed by Team Puerto Rico that it will not use pitchers Hector Santiago and Jose Berrios until the final round of the World Baseball Classic, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Los Angeles.
That affects the Twins as they try to shape their rotation for the upcoming season.
Santiago and Berrios can get their work done in the bullpen but won't benefit from facing live hitters. And Puerto Rico has to qualify for the finals for them to see any more action in the tournament.
Add to the fact that Ervin Santana has been bumped back four days for the Dominican Republic — pitching on Saturday against Team USA — and the Twins will have some juggling to do. Twins manager Paul Molitor said Santana will still pitch on Opening Day. The Twins have to see who will be ready from a stamina standpoint to fall in line behind him. Berrios, by the way, hasn't made the team yet.
"We had a little tentative [rotation] order coming into camp," Molitor said, "but that [WBC] thing has wreaked a little havoc on us."
When asked if he thought Puerto Rico pulled a fast one on the Twins, Molitor said, "No, they are trying to win."
The Twins will travel to Port Charlotte on Friday to play Tampa Bay. Righthander Phil Hughes will face Rays righthander Alex Cobb.
La Velle E. Neal III