MINNEAPOLIS -- After posting identical 5.07 ERAs in 2016 and '17, right-hander Kyle Gibson built on his strong finish to last year, turning in the best season of his career in 2018.Gibson ended it with a strong showing against the White Sox, allowing one run over six innings in an
MINNEAPOLIS -- After posting identical 5.07 ERAs in 2016 and '17, right-hander Kyle Gibson built on his strong finish to last year, turning in the best season of his career in 2018.
Gibson ended it with a strong showing against the White Sox, allowing one run over six innings in an 8-3 win over the White Sox on Saturday at Target Field. Gibson concludes his campaign with a career-best and rotation-best 3.62 ERA in 32 starts. He also set personal highs in innings with 196 2/3 and strikeouts with 179, while reaching the 10-win mark for the fourth time in his career.
"It's kind of like going into the All-Star break or something like that, you want to end on a good one," Gibson said. "Toward the end of last year and this year I think I was able to do a little better job of using my fastball to get ahead, use off-speed pitches to get ahead and really execute pitches with two strikes."
He gave up a run in the first, keyed by a walk and a wild pitch before a two-out RBI single from Omar Narvaez, but settled down from there. He surrendered just three hits while striking out seven and walking three, and impressed his manager Paul Molitor all season as the club's most consistent starter.
"Just maturity, more confidence and stuff, aggressive mindset," Molitor said. "I think he realizes his stuff is playing as well as it ever has just in terms of the quality of pitches that he can make and it's translating into him being a lot more consistent as a pitcher."
Gibson was backed by plenty of early runs, as the Twins scored twice in the first and six more times in the second, as lefty Carlos Rodon struggled in his last start of the year. Joe Mauer, playing in possibly his second-to-last game with the Twins as he contemplates retirement, was a part of both rallies and went 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI. Mauer has an eight-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in each of his last 15 starts, hitting .371 over that span.
"We're all pulling for him to have a good finish to this year," Molitor said. "He's putting together a nice homestand. I think he's really relishing just the response and the fans. You soak it in. Even if you're contemplating what lies ahead. Just to kind of pause and take pictures of each day you're playing the game."
Mauer walked to lead off the first, while Jorge Polanco singled and Robbie Grossman walked to load the bases with one out. Jake Cave plated two runs with a double down the right-field line to give Minnesota the lead.
The first seven Twins all reached safely in the second with Mauer bringing home a run with a single to center. Polanco followed with an RBI single before Willians Astudillo ripped a two-run double off the left-field wall. The Twins kept it going with a bases-loaded walk from Christopher Austin, a sacrifice fly from Cave and an RBI single from Johnny Field.
"Offense made tonight a whole lot more fun," Gibson said. "They made it really easy to get into a groove and attack guys and not have to worry about solo homers or even two-run homers. They did a really good job."
The Twins improved to 48-32 at Target Field this year, which is their most home wins since winning 53 in the first year of Target Field in 2010. The club record is 57 home wins in 1969. Minnesota also improved to 28-27 since the Trade Deadline.
HE SAID IT
"Overall, it was just the mentality I was able to keep. Kind of the beauty of having your priorities straight and having a good, confident mentality is one start, whether it's good or bad, isn't going to take you too high or too low. I could have had another year like last year and hopefully my mentality would have stayed the same and you try to stay focused on the things outside of baseball that really matter and understand that one outing or one pitch or one inning doesn't change who your identity should be on the mound or off the mound. Overall, stuff like that is what allowed me to keep a consistent mindset." -- Gibson, on his bounceback season
It could be the final game of Mauer's storied 15-year career with the Twins when they host the White Sox in the season finale at Target Field on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. CT. Mauer, a six-time All-Star, three-time batting champion and the 2009 American League MVP, said he'll wait until after the season to decide whether he'll return with Minnesota in 2019. Rookie right-hander Zack Littell (0-2, 6.61 ERA) gets the start but isn't expected to go more than a few innings after pitching in relief on Thursday. Right-hander Dylan Covey (5-13, 5.06 ERA) starts for Chicago.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.