Kyle Gibson faced 24 batters on Friday. The count stretched to three balls against 10 of them, including four of the first seven.
“The thing that jumped out to me [was that] it seemed like he had three-ball [counts] on everybody,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He couldn’t get quick outs.”
Funny thing was, Gibson said, he felt like his command was improved over his past few starts. He missed a lot — but missed close, he said.
“I don’t think there’s too many games where I have four walks and think my command was pretty good,” Gibson said. “Just missing by a little bit here and there. They took some good lose pitches that I thought were starting in the zone and either sunk out or ran out of the zone. … I think it was a step in the right direction for me.”
Molitor said he agreed they were close, but not close enough. “He was around the zone, for the most part,” Molitor said. “But checking in with our catcher [Kurt Suzuki], he said they’re balls. They’re close, but they’re balls.”
The Twins’ bullpen fell apart again on Friday, allowing eight runs over four innings. Ryan O’Rourke pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning in relief of Kyle Gibson, but then opened the seventh with a walk, which became more problematic when the next two batters hit soft singles. J.T. Chargois and Buddy Boshers then gave up back-to-back doubles, and the rout was on. That mushroomed into a six-run inning when Robbie Grossman was charged with two errors on one play. The Twins haven’t scored six runs in a game since Sept. 14.
The loss gives Minnesota 99 on the season, only the third time in franchise history they’ve had so many in one year. (They lost 99 in 2011, and 102 in 1982, their franchise record). And of course, eight games remain, meaning the Twins are virtually certain to make this their worst season ever.
They’ve already set a new record for most seven-game losing streaks in a season; Friday’s loss gives them four such skids in 2016.