BALTIMORE -- The Twins nearly made history Saturday night, as they came four outs away from the first combined no-hitter since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961, only to lose the no-hit bid on a single by Jonathan Schoop off reliever Thomas Pressly with two outs in the eighth
BALTIMORE -- The Twins nearly made history Saturday night, as they came four outs away from the first combined no-hitter since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961, only to lose the no-hit bid on a single by Jonathan Schoop off reliever Thomas Pressly with two outs in the eighth inning of a 6-2 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards.
Right-hander Kyle Gibson baffled Baltimore's hitters through six no-hit innings. He struck out seven, but didn't have his best fastball command, walking five batters and throwing 102 pitches. The high pitch count made for an easy decision for manager Paul Molitor to lift Gibson in his first start of the season despite Gibson aiming for his first career no-hitter and the sixth in franchise history.
"It wasn't a smooth six no-hit innings, but we'll take the results every time," Molitor said. "We were trying to see how far we could take him. I didn't really want to go much past 100, 105 [pitches] tops."
Gibson didn't get the chance to plead his case to remain in the game and understood the decision, as he knew there was virtually no chance of completing nine innings with his pitch count.
"I knew my pitch count was high, and the only thing that is really going to come out of that is I'm going to throw seven no-hit innings instead of six," Gibson said. "You just take the chance of going out there and being fatigued and hurting yourself."
Pressly got the job done initially, retiring the first five batters he faced before walking Manny Machado with two outs in the eighth. Schoop followed with a single on a hard-hit grounder into left field to break up what would've been the earliest no-hitter in Major League history by date, as the earliest previous no-no was thrown by Hideo Nomo with the Red Sox on April 4, 2001. But Pressly, who couldn't see the scoreboard from his spot in the bullpen, didn't know about the no-hit bid until it was already over.
"I honestly didn't know until after I heard everybody screaming," Pressly said. "I thought they hit a home run, but it was just a single."
The Twins lost the shutout in the ninth, with rookie left-hander Gabriel Moya serving up a two-run homer to Timothy Beckham with one out after giving up a double to Danny Valencia.
The pitching performance was aided by the offense breaking out, with Miguel Sano, Jason Castro and Max Kepler each homering off Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner. Sano was the first to go deep, hitting a towering shot to left in the first and also adding an RBI groundout in the third. Castro led off the third with a solo shot to dead center. Kepler had the hardest-hit smash, as his homer in the fourth had an exit velocity of 108 mph at a low launch angle of 19 degrees, per Statcast™.
"The ones we hit were no-doubters," Molitor said."Miggy getting us going, and Castro. Kepler's looked more like a golf club, the way that ball took off."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rosario the juggler: With two men on in the sixth, Eddie Rosario robbed Orioles left fielder Trey Mancini of what would have been the Orioles' first hit. Rosario made a sliding grab to snare the sinking liner, which popped out of his glove. But he deftly grabbed it in-air with his bare hand, preserving Gibson's hitless outing and making one dramatic circus grab.
"I thought I caught the ball, but when the glove hit the [ground], the ball went up," Rosario said. "But I saw everything. It was like it was in slow-motion."
Schoop's single: Just four outs shy of what would have been the Twins' first combined no-hitter, the Orioles' second baseman sent a ball into center field for a clean single. The hit put two men aboard for Baltimore, but the momentum was quickly quashed, as Pressly struck out Adam Jones.
"If we were able to finish it, it's a part of history for sure, but it wasn't my priority," Molitor said. "I wasn't going to bring in my closer to get a no-hitter in a 6-0 game."
"The first thought in my mind when I sat down in the fifth was I started to think about my neighbors in Florida, because they told me the last day before I left, 'Hey, we need you to throw a no-hitter this year.' How funny is this, the first time out? You know that stuff. You know you have the walks, but you kind of get that feeling as the game goes on and things are rolling a little." -- Gibson
Right-hander Jose Berrios gets the nod for the series finale against the Orioles at 12:05 p.m. CT, and is looking to build on his breakout showing last season. The 23-year-old went 14-8 with a 3.89 ERA in 2017, and the Twins are expecting big things from him this year. He was a candidate to start on Opening Day, but the Twins want him to be in line to pitch in his native Puerto Rico against the Indians on April 17.
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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.