Twins Game Recap (8/30): Bats Back Up Gibson, Twins Win 6th Straight
Image courtesy of FanGraphsBox Score
Gibson: 5.0 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 69.1% strikes (74 of 107 pitches)
Bullpen: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
Home Runs: Cron (23)
Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2-for-5, RBI), Polanco (3-for-4), Cruz (3-for-4, 2 RBI), Rosario (2-for-5, 3 RBI), Cron (2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI)
Top 3 WPA: Polanco .125, Kepler .113, Cron .104
The Tigers put up a fight early, as Gibson got off to a slow start, but the Twins scored in four of the first five innings. Despite not being as sharp as he’s been during the first half of the season, Gibby was the winning pitcher for the second consecutive start, which happened for only the second time since June 1. August was the month he posted his worst ERA of the season, 6.11. He finished his outing on a positive note, however, retiring 11 of the last 13 men he faced.
This was the eighth consecutive win for the Twins on the road, matching a club record set in 2006. At 83-51, the Twins are 32 games above .500 for the first time since September 22, 2010. That’s also the third time in the past nine years that Minnesota reached that many wins in a season. The club is now on pace to win 100 games, something that happened only one other time in Minnesota Twins history (1965, 102 wins). With the Cleveland loss in Tampa, the Twins now have a four-and-a-half game lead over the Indians, their largest since July 16.
Offense bails Gibson slippery beginning
Gibson was given a 4-0 lead before he took the mound. The Twins started out aggressively and hitting three straight singles after getting a leadoff walk. They had a three-run lead before the Tigers recorded an out. Nelson Cruz, Eddie Rosario and Luis Arráez each batted in a run, while Miguel Sanó reached on a fielder’s choice.
Gibby allowed two runs on five hits in a 35-pitch first inning. Three of the seven batters he faced produced at-bats of at least six pitches.
Fortunately, small ball kept working for the Twins, as Max Kepler doubled to bring home another leadoff walk in Jason Castro and he later scored on a Cruz sacrifice fly. Minnesota regained a four-run lead, winning 6-2 after two.
But again, the Tigers gained some ground in the third. Gibson allowed three straight hits to start the inning, two of those being doubles, and Detroit scored another run. With runners on the corners, he managed to catch a break, inducing an inning-ending ground ball double play.
Twins take advantage of sloppy Tiger defense
Minnesota scored two more runs in the third, with a little help from the Detroit defense. The Twins loaded the bases with one out after outfielders Victor Reyes and Harold Castro got under a C.J. Cron pop up but couldn’t make the catch. That was when Ron Gardenhire pulled the plug on starter Edwin Jackson. Reliever Matt Hall couldn’t take care of the inherited runners. Jake Cave grounded out to score Arráez and Castro scored on a passed ball to make it 8-3.
Meanwhile, Gibson picked up the pace a little bit and pitched his first 1-2-3 inning. To make things easier, he got more run support, as the offense slugged its way to a four-run fourth highlighted by a three-run homer from Cron to make it 12-3 Minnesota.
Bullpen cools things down
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo home run from John Hicks. Gibby handed over the game to the bullpen in the sixth inning and it couldn’t have been in better hands. Coming into this game with the most fWAR in baseball in the previous seven days (0.8), the Twins relievers took care of business. Tyler Duffey and Trevor May were simply lights-out, with Duffey coming up just short of an immaculate inning (nine strikes on ten pitches).
Sam Dyson allowed a solo homer to Ronny Rodriguez in the eighth inning before Sergio Romo closed the books in the ninth. Twins relievers combined for eight strikeouts, one more than the entire Tigers team. Eddie Rosario helped the cause with an RBI single in the eighth.
Postgame With Baldelli
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.