Gibson, Twins top Rays 5-1 in rain-delayed series opener

By Dave Campbell Ap Sports Writer
Friday, July 13, 2018


Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Rosario rounds the bases on a two-run home run during the seventh inning Thursday in Minneapolis. The Twins won 5-1.

MINNEAPOLIS — Nine years after drafting Kyle Gibson in the first round and six seasons into his major league career, the faith the Minnesota Twins have had in the lanky right-hander has finally been rewarded on a consistent basis.

He's gained a greater level of confidence in himself, too.

Gibson struck out nine batters over eight easy innings for the Twins, who handed Tampa Bay ace Blake Snell his shortest start of the season and beat the Rays 5-1 on Thursday night after a two-hour rain delay.

"Just had to add to the caffeine and keep the body loose," Gibson said.

Eddie Rosario hit a tworun homer in the seventh against reliever Chih-Wei Hu for more cushion, but Gibson (4-6) was already well in control on his way to consecutive wins for the first time this year. He gave up five hits without a walk, and the only run he permitted came on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Kiermaier in the eighth.

"Hopefully he pitches as well in the second half," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said, "and gets a lot more wins to show for it."

Fernando Rodney relieved Ryan Pressly in the ninth to get the last two outs and his 21st save, preserving the seventh victory in eight games for the Twins.

The Rays had their fivegame winning streak stopped after a rare clunker from Snell (12-5), who lasted only three innings and threw just 43 of 75 pitches for strikes.

The lefty took the secondlowest ERA in the American League into the game, with just two runs allowed over his last 28 2/3 innings while winning each of his last four turns. But he was in trouble every inning and found himself trailing 3-0 after back-toback RBI doubles by Robbie Grossman and Jorge Polanco in the third.

"For whatever reason, he just wasn't able to make the pitches that we've seen him make so many times this year," manager Kevin Cash said.

Snell wasn't so upset about the early hook as he was about his own mechanical trouble that he believes he could've prevented.

"It was just a lot of me making mental errors and not correcting them as fast as I should have," Snell said. "They capitalized."

The Twins hustled through that third inning. Brian Dozier singled and took second on a wild pitch. Then as he attempted to steal third, Grossman swung at a high pitch for an awkward-buteffective hit-and-run. Polanco later stole third base, too, though he was ultimately stranded.

"You've got to try to create against him when you get a chance," Molitor said.

Gibson took it from there, continuing his renaissance with his longest start on the 2018 ledger. He dropped his ERA to 3.42, more than a full run lower than his career mark. He also has by far the best strikeout rate of his career, just short of an average of one per inning.