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Updated: June 18th, 2014 4:27pm
Wetmore: 5 thoughts on Gibson's Ks, Fien's save opportunity

Wetmore: 5 thoughts on Gibson's Ks, Fien's save opportunity

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by Derek Wetmore
1500ESPN.com

The Twins took a punch to the gut Wednesday, when they lost their fifth in a row, this one in walk-off fashion. 

After nine scoreless frames, the Twins took a lead in the 10th, only to give it right back on consecutive solo home runs in the bottom of the 10th. Glen Perkins was unavailable, and the Twins gave Casey Fien a chance to close things out. 

This column presents 5 thoughts from Wednesday's game.

As always, feel free to ask any questions or make any observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).

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1. Kyle Gibson's start Wednesday was as dominant as he has been this season. Gibson struck out more batters (8) than he has in any other start in his brief career. He didn't walk any batters and he gave up just one hit, a Daniel Nava double in the fifth. Gibson had been perfect to that point.

Gibson had four strikeouts with his slider, two with his 2-seam fastball, and one apiece with his four-seamer and his changeup. He recorded 11 outs on the ground and just one in the air.

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2. Gibson's seven scoreless innings bumped his scoreless streak to 22 innings. That's the longest for a Twins starter in Francisco Liriano in 2010, when he pitched 23 scoreless innings in a row, according to Dustin Morse, Twins communications director. Johan Santana strung together 33 scoreless in 2004.

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3. Chris Parmelee started in right field and provided the only Twins offense. He started in place of the slumping Oswaldo Arcia in a shaken-up lineup. Parmelee went 3-for-4, including a solo home run in the 10th inning to break a scoreless game.

He was in line to be the hero. It would have been the second time Parmelee delivered in a dramatic way against the defending World Champions.

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4. With Glen Perkins reportedly unavailable to close because of a sore back, Casey Fien pitched the bottom of the 10th.

He retired Dustin Pedroia, but gave up back-to-back solo home runs to David Ortiz and Mike Napoli.

After Perkins, Fien is the next-best reliever on the Twins. He has faced 237 lefties in his career, and collectively they've hit .219/.283/.396 (.289 wOBA). Fien had faced 112 batters this season and given up just one home run before Wednesday.

It's a tough way to lose for the Twins, but it wasn't necessarily flawed logic to entrust the game to Fien.

The Twins gave up just five runs in the three-game series. But they scored two. Wednesday's late-inning gut punch punctuated the sweep.

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5. Eduardo Escobar ran the Twins out of a possible scoring chance in the eighth inning. With Red Sox starter John Lackey still cruising in a scoreless game, Escobar roped a ball down the third-base line. He aggressively rounded first base as the left fielder, Daniel Nava, approached the ball. Escobar gambled on his speed or on Nava's ability to cleanly field the ball against the wall in foul territory and make an on-target throw to second base.

Nava made a play that a Major League left fielder is expected to make, and threw out Escobar fairly easily. The outcome would suggest Escobar miscalculated and should have instead been content with a single.

Given the circumstances, I think his decision is defensible. With the exception of Parmelee, the Twins had done nothing offensively against Lackey to that point. If Escobar stayed at first, it would take multiple hits with one out, or an extra-base hit, to drive him in. Due up: Eric Fryer and Pedro Florimon. (Sam Fuld eventually pinch-hit for Florimon in the 9th inning, which speaks volumes about the Twins' bench.)

If, on the other hand, Escobar's gamble paid off, Minnesota would have had two chances to poke a single to the outfield to score Escobar from second.

Outs on the bases are magnified in a one-run game, of course, but Escobar's gamble is not the reason the Twins lost.

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for 1500ESPN.com. His previous stops include MLB.com and the Minnesota Daily.
Email Derek | @DerekWetmore
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