Gibson can't go deep as bullpen implodes

Starter labors through five before relievers struggle

Gibson can't go deep as bullpen implodes

MINNEAPOLIS -- The importance of having a pitcher get deep into the game was evident for the Twins on Sunday, as right-hander Kyle Gibson kept his team in the game, but lasted just five innings, which opened the door for the bullpen to implode in an 11-3 loss to the Rays at Target Field.

Gibson, who averaged 6 2/3 innings over his last five starts, couldn't keep his impressive roll going, as he gave up three runs on eight hits in his second-shortest outing of the year. He said the issue was being too predictable with his pitch patterns, and it's something he'll work on going forward.

"I would've liked to get a few more innings under my belt," Gibson said. "Five innings leaves a lot of pressure on the 'pen with four innings against a pretty tough team."

The bullpen hasn't been an issue for the Twins this season, but it was on Sunday, as Brian Duensing, Michael Tonkin and Aaron Thompson combined to give up eight runs while recording just three outs.

The Twins were down by just two runs when Gibson left the game, but the Rays struck with a five-run sixth inning to put the game away.

"We're hoping we can stay in the game," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Brian couldn't get through the inning and so we made the change. Tonkin has been pretty good but threw a couple center-cuts today. So it's a little disappointing when you hope to stay in the game when you turn it over to those guys, but overall, they've been solid."

So while it ended with a blowout loss, the Twins still took two out of three against the Rays and came away satisfied with their short three-game homestand.

"We won the series and were looking for the sweep but couldn't do it," second baseman Brian Dozier said. "They won the game in the sixth inning basically. You have to avoid big innings and they did a good job swinging the bats."

It ended in similar fashion to their road trip through Cleveland and Detroit, as they went 3-3 on that trip but finished with a 13-1 loss in Detroit on Thursday. But Molitor noted the Twins came right back with back-to-back wins against the Rays after that loss to the Tigers, so they're hoping to bounce back in a similar fashion with a five-game road trip against the Pirates and White Sox.

"It's kind of like the road trip where we finished 3-3 but ended with a bad taste in our mouths," Molitor said. "So it's kinda like this series. Tampa has been playing well and we had a couple really nice wins but today we weren't very competitive. But that's the nature of the game."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.