MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins got their holiday homestand off to a strong start thanks to a much-needed quality outing from a starter other than All-Star Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios.
Minnesota hopes veteran Kyle Gibson can build off rookie Adalberto Mejia’s impressive work when the Twins play the second game of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday afternoon.
Mejia pitched seven innings and Max Kepler went 4-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs in Minnesota’s 9-5 win Monday. In the process, Mejia became the first Twins pitcher to throw six innings since Jose Berrios on June 26 and the first to record an out in the seventh since Berrios on June 21.
“I don’t remember the last time we had seven innings from someone other than Santana or Berrios,” manager Paul Molitor said, “so we needed a little pick-me-up there, and he gave it to us.”
The last starter other than Santana and Berrios to go seven innings was Mejia on May 21. Gibson has been a part of those rotation issues.
Gibson (4-6, 6.11 ERA) allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings at Anaheim on June 2 and is 1-2 with a 5.77 ERA in 13 career starts against the Angels.
Los Angeles will counter with JC Ramirez (7-6, 4.60 ERA), who took the loss in the June 2 game at Angels Stadium when he allowed seven runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. That was Ramirez’s only career start against Minnesota.
Even with Mejia’s strong start Monday, Minnesota could use another by Gibson. The right-hander has pitched into the sixth in six of his past seven starts but has maxed out this season at six innings. He twice pitched into the seventh but hasn’t recorded an out.
Gibson and Molitor felt good about his last outing on Thursday, when he allowed five runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings during a road loss to the Boston Red Sox.
“It was one of Gibby’s better nights,” Molitor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune after the game. “He was attacking, used his fastball well, got some jam shots on right-handers. Just some bad luck changed it.”
Ramirez is coming off a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday in which he allowed six runs (five earned) and three homers in 5 2/3 innings.
“I just couldn’t get ahead with my curveball,” Ramirez told the Orange County Register after the outing. “I tried everything I could, but I didn’t have it today. That was a game-changer for me.”
Ramirez alternated good and bad outings during June, going 3-3 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts.
“It’s been pretty hard,” Ramirez told the Register. “I hope July will come with good things.”
While injured Angels star Mike Trout nears rehab games, Minnesota could be without its leadoff hitter for the second consecutive game on Tuesday. Brian Dozier was scratched just before the Monday game due to lower back tightness.
“The reports after the game are he’s doing a little bit better,” Molitor said late Monday. “Probably going to be a little bit cautious tomorrow, I would imagine.”
The Twins activated infielder Ehire Adrianza from the disabled list after the game and optioned Kennys Vargas to Triple-A Rochester.
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