Target Field used to be Kyle Gibson’s best friend. But they don’t seem to get along so well anymore.
Gibson closed his fourth major league season with a 1-8 record in his home ballpark Friday, and while he only gave up two runs in the Twins’ 10-1 loss to the Mariners — their 99th loss of the season and seventh in a row — it could have been worse. Byron Buxton robbed Nelson Cruz of a home run with two runners on base, reaching above the center-field wall to keep the game close, temporarily.
“Unreal,” Gibson said. “He makes so many plays. Not that he made that look really easy, but he got back there so quick, it gave him a chance to make that play.”
But if Buxton’s outfield play helped out the Twins starter, Robbie Grossman’s made things worse for the bullpen. And Cruz got his revenge, too.
Grossman turned Mike Zunino’s sinking line drive to left into a two-run nightmare, first by allowing the ball to glance off his glove and scoot by him, then by sliding toward the ball and kicking it onto the warning track as he scrambled to catch up to it. That was the cap to an ugly six-run seventh inning that helped turn a close game into the 20th time the Twins have given up 10 or more runs this season.
“Some bloops, some misplays, some well-hit balls,” manager Paul Molitor said. “Not a particularly good game overall.”
Cruz got Seattle to double digits an inning later with a soaring 455-foot home run off Tommy Milone that glanced off the sandstone facing high above the batter’s eye, his 38th homer of the season. The Mariners kept pace in the AL wild-card chase, remaining two games behind Detroit for the final playoff spot.
For Gibson, though, the loss wrapped up a tremendously disappointing season at home, where he had won a half-dozen games in each of the past two seasons. Friday, he needed 99 pitches to get through those five innings, partly due to the four walks he issued, and partly because he gave up at least one hit in four of those innings.
“The thing that jumped out to me [was that] it seemed like he had three-ball [counts] on everybody,” Molitor said. “He couldn’t get quick outs.”
Saved three more runs by Buxton, Gibson (6-11) managed to reduce his season ERA to 5.04 with one start remaining. But he still owns a 5.21 ERA in his home park this year, and his lone victory here came July 3 over Texas.