Gibson strikes out nine as Twins beat Orioles 5-4
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Bobby Wilson helped Kyle Gibson turn around his pitching after a rough first inning. Then, for at least one afternoon, the veteran catcher fixed his own struggles at the plate.
Wilson went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, Gibson recovered from a shaky first to throw seven innings, and the Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 on Saturday.
Max Kepler homered in his second straight game to help send the Twins to their third win in a row.
“You take them any way you can get them,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We haven’t had the luxury of any kind of run here as of late, so to start out the home stand with three, it feels pretty good.”
The Twins didn’t bring in Wilson for his offense — his two-hit day raised his batting average to .134 — so they’re not expecting him to deliver game-turning hits on a regular basis. But that’s exactly what he did with an RBI single in the fifth that made it 3-2, and a two-RBI double the next inning that proved the game-winner.
It was Wilson’s first multi-hit game since Sept. 21, 2016.
“I feel like I’ve been doing everything I can defensively but it’s time to start turning that corner and start contributing offensively as well,” Wilson said.
Earlier in the day, the team needed Wilson’s smarts behind the plate to recover from an early hole.
Gibson (3-6) allowed three runs in the first inning — including a two-run homer by Chris Davis — but only gave up two hits after that while striking out nine. It was Gibson’s highest strikeout total since fanning 10 batters on April 26 against the New York Yankees.
“After the first inning we sat down and I said ‘Gibby talk to me, what do we got to do? What’s going to turn this around?’ So we talked about a few things and we kind of stuck with that game plan for the rest of the game,” Wilson said.
Kepler’s solo shot off Kevin Gausman sparked a three-run fifth that tied it. Wilson’s two-run double off Miguel Castro (2-5) in the sixth gave Minnesota the lead for good.
Trevor Hildenberger worked a scoreless eighth for the Twins. Jace Peterson’s RBI double off Fernando Rodney pulled the Orioles to 5-4, but Rodney got Tim Beckham on a grounder to short to convert his 19th save in 24 chances.
The team with baseball’s worst record, meanwhile, lost its fifth in the row and fell 40 games below .500.
“It’s kind of hard to believe that’s where we’re at right now,” Davis said. “I feel like anytime we start to build some momentum, we either give it right back to the other team or we do something to kind of take ourselves out of the game.”
That certainly seemed the case Saturday.
Coming off his best start of the season against the L.A. Angels, Gausman had a 3-0 lead before ever taking the mound and looked sharp early. Gausman faced the minimum number of batters through the first three innings, and allowed a single hit through the first four.
But things turned quickly in the fifth. With one out, Kepler homered to left-center, Robbie Grossman doubled, and Jake Cave and Wilson followed with singles. After Joe Mauer walked, Cave scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.
“I don’t think I really got away from anything. They just did a good job of battling and put some long at-bats together, and fought some pitches off and really got my pitch count off.”
Gausman, who held the Angels to one run and two hits without a walk in eight innings last Sunday, didn’t return for the sixth.
The Orioles loaded the bases in the third with two outs, but Gibson struck out Danny Valencia swinging to end the threat. After that, Gibson allowed a leadoff double to Jonathan Schoop before retiring 10 in a row.
“We scored three in the first and then just didn’t do anything,” manager Buck Showalter said. We had a chance to open it up there, but that’s the hit that’s been eluding us to really get to that five or six-run lead.”
Orioles: OF Trey Mancini got a rare day off, but manager Buck Showalter said he was fine. The manager said it was more about getting Peterson a chance to play. Peterson went 1-for-3 on Saturday.
Davis’ strikeout against Hildenberger in the eighth was the 1,306th of his career, moving him past Cal Ripken, Jr. for Baltimore’s franchise record.
“You play long enough, you’re going to swing and miss enough to apparently set some records. There’s not really much to say about that,” Davis said.
Orioles: Alex Cobb (2-10) takes the mound for Baltimore in the finale. He hasn’t won since June 5 against the New York Mets.
Twins: Jake Odorizzi (3-6) makes his 19th start of the year as the Twins go for the sweep. His last outing against Baltimore was March 29, when he shut out the Orioles over six innings on two hits and two walks.