Staff and wire reports
KANSAS CITY — Kyle Gibson and the Kansas City Royals have a history, one the Minnesota Twins right-hander continued to reign over on Thursday night.
The Greenfield-Central graduate tossed eight scoreless innings and gutted through two jams at Kauffman Stadium, allowing only four hits to shut down the Royals, as the Twins won 2-0.
Gibson made his major league debut against Kansas City on June 29, 2013, earning the win with five strikeouts and two runs surrendered in a six-inning gem at Target Field.
Thursday night’s victory marked his second this season against Kansas City and upped his career record to 5-2 versus last year’s American League Central Division champions.
Through 45.0 innings pitched, he has surrendered just 11 earned runs and struck out 31 Royals, compared with 16 walks issued.
Gibson lowered his career ERA to 2.20 in his seventh start versus Kansas City, which has hit .224 against the former University of Missouri star, since he claimed a spot in the rotation two years ago.
“It was a good night out there,” Gibson commented to MLB.com reporters. “I wouldn’t say that we needed to come out and make a statement because it’s just July; but any time you’re facing a team above in your division, it’s an important game.
“You have to win games like that, so it was a good win for us.”
Glen Perkins breezed through the ninth inning to lock down Gibson’s second straight win — the first time he’s won consecutive starts since early May.
Gibson (6-6) threw 114 pitches, the second-most in his career, to move the Twins to 3½ games out of first place in the division.
It was a good way to start the four-game set for the second-place Twins, who have dropped four of their first six on a 10-game road trip.
The division-leading Royals have lost four-straight, two of them in shutouts.
The Twins collected five extra-base hits — including two run-scoring triples — and had runners advance three times.
Then again, all Minnesota needed was a run with Gibson dealing on the mound.
Two of Kansas City’s four hits were bunts against the shift, and the hardest-hit ball — a single by Lorenzo Cain in the fourth — led to the most frustrating frame of the night. Kansas City went on to load the bases before Gibson settled in and ended the inning with a strikeout.
He rang up seven batters and walked four. He has fanned 54 hitters in 641/3 innings during his past 10 starts.
“You want to get your guys to bulldog through outs late in games,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said, explaining his decision to leave Gibson in late despite triple-digit pitch count. “It was touch-and-go there.”
The Twins scored the game’s first run in the fifth.
Kurt Suzuki led off with a double against Royals starter Chris Young. After a sacrifice, Danny Santana stroked a triple into the left-center field gap.
The Twins’ ninth-ranked rookie prospect, Miguel Sano, who was making his big-league debut, got an infield dribbler in the ninth. It led to an insurance run with Eduardo Escobar coming through with an RBI triple into the right-center-field gap.
Outside of loading the bases in the fourth, Gibson cruised until he found himself in trouble in the eighth.
Omar Infante led with a single and pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson stole second to give the Royals a runner in scoring position with no outs.
Gibson walked Mike Moustakas with one out to put two runners on, but he struck out Lorenzo Cain and got Eric Hosmer to ground out to second to escape unscathed.
“He did a really nice job tonight executing pitches. He has tremendous run on his fastball. He started in on lefties and run it back to the corner, or start even in farther trying to get us to bite on balls off the plate,” Royals manager Ned Yost told MLB.com reporters.
“Same way to righties, he’d start on the corner and run off, or he’d start it outside and run it back over. Mixed in nice sliders. I think we had, really, two run-scoring opportunities: one with the bases loaded and two outs, and then one there in the eighth inning. He just made quality pitches in those spots.”
Gibson’s next start will be Tuesday at Target Field against the Baltimore Orioles. In his lone career start versus Baltimore, he has a no decision, lasting five innings and allowing one run with six strikeouts.
The Minnesota Twins’ Kyle Gibson pitched 8.0 innings on Saturday, surrendering no runs against the Kansas City Royals. The Greenfield-Central graduate’s pitching line against the Royals as well as for the season: