Three extras from a deflating start to a four-game series with Cleveland:
Tyler Duffey pumped his fist as Edwin Encarnacion swung through a 92-mph fastball Monday night, the final out of Duffey’s latest impressive bullpen outing. The righthander, a starter his entire major league career until two weeks ago, faced 10 Cleveland batters in the Twins’ 3-1 loss and struck out four of them. He gave up a single to Carlos Santana and apparently hit Abraham Almonte with a pitch — though the Twins aren’t convinced the ball made contact — but allowed neither runner to move past first base.
That makes four spotless outings for Duffey, who may be pitching himself out of the Twins’ rotation — and into their bullpen — for good. He’s now pitched 8 2/3 innings on the season, and has given up zilch, pretty much: five hits, one walk and zero runs, while striking out seven.
All of this while mostly waiting for his chance; he had pitched only once in nine days before his outing on Monday.
“I talked to him today. I said, ‘It’s been a little bit of roller-coaster for you. Sometimes it’s length, sometimes it’s big outs late,’ “ Molitor said. “It just kind of worked out tonight. I kind of wanted to get him in there at some point. He hasn’t pitched a ton, but when he has, he’s been very effective.”
Kyle Gibson’s a nice guy, maybe too nice. He’s always such a gracious host when the Indians are in town.
The righthander has faced Cleveland at Target Field once in each of his five seasons with the Twins, and he’s uniformly generous. Which is a nice way of saying the Twins are 0-5 in those games.
On Monday, Gibson put a runner on base in each of the six innings he pitched, surrendered a team-leading fourth home run, and left the Twins resigned to their fifth loss in seven games. The home runs are particularly troubling to him, he said.
“If I can’t keep the ball in the park, I’m going to be frustrated with myself for a long time. That can’t happen,” Gibson said of Michael Brantley’s fifth inning shot into the seats in right-center. Gibson had surrendered only four home runs in 13 April starts before this year; now he’s given up four in just 14 innings.
“I definitely need to look back and try to limit those. The two years I’ve thrown OK, I’ve limited home runs,” he said. “I need to get back to that. This is just not who I am. I need to get ground balls and let the defense work for me.”
Attendance was announced at 16,961, the third time in seven home games that fewer than 17,000 fans showed up to Target Field. That had happened at only one other game in the stadium’s history before this April.