ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Minnesota Twins may sometimes be down but rarely are they every truly out of a ballgame until the final inning.
A disastrous game was instantly turned around. The Twins made the most of the few chances they had and although they were edged 8-6 by the Los Angeles Angels Tuesday night in Anaheim, it wasn’t necessarily a bad loss.
"We stay after it, we stay in the games — we did tonight — and we had chances, even after we got within one or tied it," said manager Ron Gardenhire. "Then we got behind a little bit again but we had plenty of chances after that and another big hit away. And you know what? It says a little bit about the guys out there. They were giving everything they had and we have a pretty good team down after that too."
Right-hander Kyle Gibson’s streak of 22 scoreless innings came to an end early on as he gave up five runs in the first inning alone. But it was an off night for both pitchers as the Twins responded by tagging Angels’ lefty C.J. Wilson for five in the top of the second.
"Getting those runs off C.J. is not that easy, he’s a pretty good pitcher," Gardenhire said. "He lasted whatever it was, five innings, so that was pretty good for him and a pretty good battle between two pitchers that have been going along pretty good. One of them stayed in there, one of them didn’t."
Gibson would be the starting pitcher who did not remain in the game. He lasted only two innings, giving up two more earned runs in the second inning, both off the bat of Mike Trout, who smashed a two-seam fastball into the center-field stands for a two-run home run that put the Angels up 7-5.
"I had to go out there and the first inning I really didn’t give us a chance," Gibson said. "The offense thankfully battled us back into it. It was just a frustrating day, really."
Both pitchers struggled to accurately diagnose what ailed them. Gibson felt that it was more difficult than usual to make adjustments while Wilson, who was ahead in the count before giving up most of the big hits, gave up a lead in an atypical fashion.
"I think I definitely should have found a way to not take five hitters to get an out. That was pretty frustrating," Gibson said. "This one was just like, I was out there and the ball just wouldn’t come out the same two times in a row and I haven’t had that feeling in a long time."
While Gardenhire isn’t exactly encouraged by the performance, he simply said it was an off night and nothing over which to panic.
"(Gibson) kind of got overwhelmed. They jumped him early, he misfired, put men on base and then couldn’t make a pitch after that," Gardenhire said. "So it was just a rough night for him and he couldn’t find anything, couldn’t get anything to work. It looked like his fastball was a little bit flatter tonight and, whether he was overthrowing or whatever, it was just one of those nights for him."
The Twins began to battle back in the second when Josh Willingham and Kendrys Morales hit back-to-back home runs. Joe Mauer continued his hot-hitting ways with a double in a 1-for-5 night.
Just six games out of first place in the A.L. Central, the resilient Twins still aren’t far out.
"As I’ve said all along, we feel pretty good about our ball club," Gardenhire said.