Another rough start for rookie Kyle Gibson wasn’t the Twins’ only loss Sunday.
Brian Dozier left Minnesota’s 6-4, series-closing defeat at Seattle before the bottom of the sixth inning, citing pain in his lower back. He told reporters afterward he hopes to play when the Twins return home Tuesday, but manager Ron Gardenhire said they’d be careful with their starting second baseman.
“He’ll get checked out,” Gardenhire said. “We’ll go day-to-day with it.”
On a team that’s now 45-57 and 6-4 since the All-Star break, Dozier has been one of Minnesota’s brighter spots in this, his second major league season. While his batting average continues to hover around a pedestrian .230, his eye-turning defense and .994 fielding percentage have made the Twins’ middle infield a difficult place for hitters to find gaps.
His bat was also solid during the six-game trip west Minnesota just concluded, a stretch in which he hit safely in every game.
Sunday, Dozier went 1-for-3 with a double before his exit. Jamey Carroll took his place and went 0-for-2.
Another rough start: Gibson, meanwhile, yielded a pair of home runs for the second straight outing and fell to 2-3 since being called up from Triple-A Rochester on June 24. Throwing hard but missing his spots, he lasted five innings and yielded five earned runs on seven hits while striking out three.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Michael Saunders smashed a 3-1 fastball from Gibson into Safeco Field’s second deck, and Nick Franklin hit the first of his two homers three batters later to give the Mariners (50-55) a 5-2 lead.
Gibson has yet to pitch past the sixth inning for Minnesota.
“He didn’t command the zone great today,” Gardenhire said of Gibson, who threw 95 pitches. “He’s just got to locate the ball better. Talking with (pitching coach Rick Anderson) and guys like that, it’s all about locating. He’s just not locating it well enough right now.
“When he missed, they made him pay.”
Colabello making an impression: Chris Colabello helped the Twins keep things close with a home run in the second inning and a double that sparked a two-run sixth frame. He would’ve had another if not for Seattle right fielder Endy Chavez’s third-inning robbery that sent him leaping above the fence in right.
“Big play by him, and another nice swing by Colabello,” Gardenhire said. “Unfortunately, they made the play.”
Coming up Tuesday: Splitting with the Mariners and taking two of three decisions against the Angels earlier in the week, the Twins return from a 4-3 West Coast swing — their first winning road trip since April.
Even better news is All-Star catcher Joe Mauer will return to the lineup Tuesday against Kansas City. The team announced immediately after Sunday’s game he’d been reinstated from the paternity list following the birth of his twin daughters Wednesday.
As a result, Minnesota optioned catcher Drew Butera back to Triple-A Rochester. He appeared in two games in his first major league stint of the season, batting 0-for-3.