Walks haunted Kyle Gibson Thursday night as the right-hander gave out six free passes, helping the Indians beat the Twins 7-5.
It was the opening game of a critical four-game series in Minneapolis between the two contenders in the American League Central Division. Cleveland's victory has them within one game of the first place Twins, whose lead a couple of months ago was 11.5 games over the Indians.
Gibson allowed six runs and didn't make it out of the fifth inning, but Minnesota's bats again came alive late. They scored three runs against Cleveland's bullpen in the eighth to make it a one run game, and then loaded the bases in the ninth before Eddie Rosario flew out to left to end the game.
“Thank goodness there wasn’t more innings, just because they keep coming at you, and we knew that,” Indians manager Terry Francona said, via Twins beat writer Do Hyoung Park. “That was two teams that wanted to win really bad.”
It's the third straight game Minnesota has gotten next to nothing from its starting pitcher.
Jose Berrios got rocked for nine earned runs against the Braves, followed by Martin Perez giving up six runs to the Braves and then Gibson allow six runs to the Indians.
“I think we're in a little bit of a rut, just starting pitching wise. It's just a little run of pitching not going your way, and you're not throwing the ball the way you want to," said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. "That is going to happen. We are playing against some pretty good teams as well, and they make you pay when you are not on your game.”
Minnesota has led the AL Central since April 26, and they'll have to beat Cleveland Friday night to avoid sharing the lead.
Nelson Cruz injured
Twins slugger Nelson Cruz was forced to exit the game after striking out in his first two at-bats. The Twins say he's day-to-day with a left wrist strain.
Cruz missed 15 games with a left wrist strain in May, and losing him now for a similar stretch would be rough. The 39-year-old leads the majors with 16 homers since the All-Star break, and he's hit 13 of them in the last 15 games.
More information about Cruz's status is expected to be announced Friday.