There was a time when Kyle Gibson couldn’t pitch well on the road.
After two impressive starts away from Target Field, those days might be over for the Twins right-hander.
Gibson tossed seven scoreless innings Wednesday at Fenway Park, the second time in as many road starts he’s done so. In fact, Gibson’s scoreless innings streak is now at 22, the longest by a Twins starter since Francisco Liriano had 23 straight scoreless innings in 2010.
Yet despite one of his best efforts of the season, Gibson didn’t get the win — and neither did his team. Chris Parmelee gave the Twins a lead with a solo homer in the top of the 10th, but Boston’s David Ortiz and Mike Napoli hit back-to-back home runs as Boston swept the series with a 2-1 win.
Amid the crushing loss, Gibson was a bright spot for Minnesota.
"He did exactly what he’s been doing," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "He pounded the strike zone and kept them off balance all day. It was a great performance."
Gibson was perfect through four innings before finally surrendering a two-out hit in the bottom of the fifth inning when Daniel Nava hit a double to right field. But Gibson stranded Nava at second when Boston catcher A.J. Pierzynski grounded out to end the inning, one of 11 groundball outs Gibson got in Wednesday’s start.
That hit would be the only one Gibson allowed Wednesday. He also didn’t walk a batter, the fourth time he’s had a walk-free start this year. The only other baserunner Gibson allowed aside from the Nava double was Brock Holt, who reached first base with two outs in the sixth when second baseman Brian Dozier committed his fifth error of the season.
While the baserunners were few and far between, the strikeouts came early and often for Gibson. Coming into his outing against Boston, Gibson’s career high for strikeouts in a game was five, which he did once earlier this year and once last season. Wednesday, Gibson fanned eight Red Sox batters. He picked up his second and third strikeouts of the game when he got Mike Napoli swinging and Daniel Nava looking to end the second. Later he got two outs in the sixth inning via strikeouts.
Gibson has quietly turned into one of the Twins’ best starters in the rotation. After his three straight starts without allowing a run, Gibson has lowered his ERA on the season from 4.35 to 3.25 in the span of three games; only Phil Hughes (3.09) has a lower ERA among Twins starters. Over his last three starts, Gibson has allowed zero runs, nine hits, five walks and 16 strikeouts in 21 innings of work.
For the third time in three days, though, a brilliant performance by a Twins starting pitcher was wasted when the offense couldn’t score enough runs to back up Gibson. In Tuesday’s 2-1 loss, Phil Hughes allowed two runs over eight strong innings. One day earlier, right-hander Kevin Correia was hit with a loss despite allowing just one run in six innings as Boston won that game 1-0.
Seven scoreless innings should have been enough for Gibson — and the Twins — to pick up a win Wednesday. But with the bats struggling again, Gibson’s strong start went for naught.
"You give up five runs total in a series and you lose three ballgames here in Boston, which is amazing in itself," Gardenhire said. "Unfortunately we just didn’t swing the bats well, and that has something to do with that pitching staff on the other side. They’re pretty good."
FOX Sports North’s Jamie Hersch contributed to this report.