Gibson getting into groove on mound

Gibson getting into groove on mound

JUPITER, Fla. -- Kyle Gibson's fifth Grapefruit League start may have been even better than his fourth.

The Twins' right-hander threw five very strong innings in the 2-1 loss against the Cardinals on Thursday at Roger Dean Stadium. He gave up one run on one hit, a home run, while striking out five and walking one.

In his previous outing Gibson worked five effective innings against Boston, allowing no runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out four.

On Thursday, Gibson breezed through three-plus innings, needing just 46 pitches to set down the Cards in order after walking the first batter he faced. A nice running catch in left field by Danny Santana ended the first inning.

Santana's great running catch

"The outfield got a lot of work today," Gibson said. "I was throwing some four-seamers today, and they were elevating the ball a little bit off the bat."

His 47th pitch didn't capture the same results, however. Cards DH Jedd Gyorko smacked the 2-1 offering over the right field fence for his second home run of the spring. It was the only hit Gibson allowed in an otherwise stellar performance.

He finished off the Cards in order, retiring the last four he faced and was helped out again by his defense. This time it was third baseman Ehire Adrianza, who went across his body to snag a liner down the third base line off the bat of Paul DeJong. Adrianza gloved the hot shot and threw out the Cards shortstop.

Adrianza's diving stop

"Man, Adrianza made a great play down the line," Gibson said. "Definitely, I thought it was a for sure double and then I see him dive and get it. So it's a good feeling when that happens."

Gibson threw 64 pitches, 40 for strikes. He was originally scheduled to throw 90, but that was backed down because of the extended Spring Training affording him an extra start.

But he gave himself mixed reviews on his most recent outing.

"At times [I felt good]," Gibson said. "I got a little frustrated with myself during the third and fourth inning, fell behind a couple of guys. Other than that my pitch count was in pretty good shape."

Gibson said he is feeling more comfortable with his curveball and working it in to see where it fits with his mix of pitches.

For the spring, Gibson has now pitched 17 1/3 innings, allowing 15 hits and four runs. He has struck out 13 and walked four.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Twins on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.