MINNEAPOLIS — When the Twins and Orioles were originally scheduled to play May 9 before the game was rained out, neither Robbie Grossman nor Max Kepler were on Minnesota’s roster.
Baltimore likely wishes it stayed that way, as the pair combined to reach base safely seven times and score four runs to lift Minnesota to a 6-2 win in Thursday’s makeup game at Target Field.
Grossman, who didn’t join the Twins until May 19 and has been one of the club’s biggest surprises, went 2-for-3 with two walks and helped spark a four-run seventh inning with a one-out double.
Kepler, in the midst of a breakout rookie season since being called up June 1, went 2-for-3 with a walk and a game-tying solo homer in the sixth.
Greenfield native Kyle Gibson pitched six innings and allowed just two runs but didn’t factor into the decision. The right-hander was coming off a masterful performance against the Boston Red Sox on July 22, collecting his third win in five starts with two hits surrendered over eight innings.
The Twins broke the game open against Baltimore’s bullpen in their four-run seventh after Gibson departed, with Brian Dozier providing the go-ahead RBI single to score Grossman with one out.
“Kepler’s home run was a boost and got us back to even, which got us a little more life,” Twins manager Paul Molitor told MLB.com reporters. “We found a way to add on there with some big hits with Dozier, Kepler and then Eddie Rosario finding a way to hit one over (Adam) Jones’ head (for a two-run triple).”
Gibson was plagued by a leadoff homer from Jones on his first pitch of the night but settled down from there.
The sinkerballer gave up nine hits with six strikeouts and no walks. The Orioles also scored in the fourth on a two-out RBI single from former Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy.
Thursday was the first time Gibson hadn’t allowed a free pass. It was his second straight quality start, which helped lower his ERA to 4.54.
Jones’ home run was the ninth against Gibson in 13 starts this season.
The homer was only Jones’ fifth extra-base hit of the month. It was the fourth time this season a Twins pitcher had allowed a homer on the first pitch of the game. Gibson had also allowed a leadoff homer in his last start to Mookie Betts of the Red Sox.
“I’m going to have to start throwing first-pitch offspeed or something,” Gibson said with a smile. “It’s getting ridiculous. Maybe throw the first batter all offspeed.”
Gibson’s next start is Tuesday at home against the Cleveland Indians. The former Greenfield-Central star has posted a 3.03 ERA over his last six starts. The game’s first pitch is at 7:10 p.m.
Kyle Gibson put together another strong performance on Thursday night but didn’t factor in the decision. The Greenfield-Central graduate limited the Baltimore Orioles to two runs during six innings with six strikeouts. Gibson’s pitching line against the Orioles as well as for the 2016 season: