Gibson, Twins fall 9-5 to Yankees for series sweep
MINNEAPOLIS — After a sharp major league debut for Minnesota, Kyle Gibson faltered in the follow-up.
Vernon Wells drove in three runs, and the New York Yankees pounded the rookie right-hander in a 9-5 victory on Thursday to finish a four-game sweep.
Justin Morneau homered twice for the Twins, one-third of his season total. But Gibson (1-1) gave up 11 hits, a walk, a hit by pitch and eight runs in 5 1-3 innings with two strikeouts in his second start.
“I went back and took a look at all the hits that I gave up, and only four of them were actually well-located,” Gibson said. “Coming into this whole experience I knew if I didn’t locate my pitches, I was going to get hurt.”
Travis Hafner had three hits and scored twice and Zoilo Almonte and Alberto Gonzalez also drove in runs for the Yankees, who scored 29 runs over the four games. They didn’t even need their usual super-sized contribution from Robinson Cano, whose streak of six straight multihit games ended without reaching base.
“I wouldn’t say I was intimidated out there today. I had the stuff that I had the last time out there. Maybe even better, honestly,” Gibson said.
The Twins fell to 23-71 against the Yankees since the start of 2002, including the postseason.
“They got some big hits when they needed to. I don’t worry about the Yankee part,” manager Ron Gardenhire said, adding: “I wish we had answers for all that stuff.”
David Phelps (6-5) surrendered Morneau’s first homer and three more runs in the seventh, when he left with one out. RBI singles by Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier and a sacrifice fly by Joe Mauer helped the Twins catch up in that inning, and Morneau went deep again in the eighth. That wasn’t enough. Phelps gave up eight hits and four runs, but he struck out five without a walk.
Phelps had a decent June until his final start of the month, when the Orioles beat him up for a season-high nine runs in 2 1-3 innings last Saturday. Swept in that series, the banged-up Yankees brought a five-game losing streak to Target Field, where their woes were quickly forgotten.
The Twins have lost 10 of their last 13 games. Afterward, P.J. Walters was designated for assignment to make room for fellow right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who will rejoin the rotation when he comes off the disabled list on Saturday. That means Gibson is here to stay, for now.
“Every day there’s guys that lose their job here in this game, and hopefully in five days I’ll get another chance and go out there and throw better,” he said.
Gibson’s debut last weekend matched the anticipation of the 2009 first-round draft pick built up in the fan base, a winning performance with six sharp innings and two runs allowed. This time, he was behind 3-0 after just his 17th pitch. The first five batters produced two singles, two doubles and a soaring sacrifice fly by Cano that Oswaldo Arcia caught at the wall in left field. The next batter, Wells, hit a two-run single.
The game, though, was essentially decided in the third inning.
Gibson hit Hafner with a pitch and let him move up on a wild pitch. Then Wells sneaked a low-arc pop-up in the space between Arcia and the infield, just right for Hafner to score, Arcia to miss a sliding catch by a few inches and Wells to get a double. Luis Cruz followed with an RBI single, his first hit for the Yankees, to stretch the lead to 5-0.
“I think the young man has pretty good stuff, in watching his last start. He just made some mistakes,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Then in the bottom of the inning, the Twins found more bad breaks indicative of a slumping team.
After consecutive singles to start for the Twins, Brian Dozier’s bunt rolled perfectly down the third-base line where no play was possible. But it strayed a bit too far, across the chalk, and Dozier was summoned back to the box. Then he grounded into a double play, thanks to a slick running pickup and same-motion, sidearm toss by the shortstop Cruz to Cano at second base to start the process.
Mauer struck out looking next on a pitch the catcher believed was low, in disagreement with home plate umpire Ed Hickox. Mauer was called out on strikes in his next at-bat, too, and he had more words for Hickox on his way back to the dugout.
Notes: Morneau’s last multihomer game was on Sept. 9, 2012. ... Mauer struck out three times to raise his team-high number to 69. His career high is 88, set last season, and he’s on pace for 136. ... The Twins begin a 10-game road trip on Friday, continuing their grind through the AL East. RHP Kevin Correia (6-5, 4.08 ERA) will start in Toronto, with LHP Mark Buehrle (4-5, 4.81 ERA) taking the mound for the Blue Jays.