CHICAGO -- Having failed to pitch out of the sixth inning in any of his three previous outings, right-hander Kyle Gibson was on thin ice heading into his start against the White Sox on Tuesday.It looked as though it would be yet another short outing from Gibson, as he worked
CHICAGO -- Having failed to pitch out of the sixth inning in any of his three previous outings, right-hander Kyle Gibson was on thin ice heading into his start against the White Sox on Tuesday.
It looked as though it would be yet another short outing from Gibson, as he worked out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the second, only to load the bases again with nobody out in the third. But Gibson, whose strikeout rate ranks among the lowest among starters in the Majors, came through with three huge strikeouts to escape trouble and eventually lasted seven strong frames in a 4-1 win at Guaranteed Rate Field.
"I'm really happy for him," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I can't imagine some of the things swirling in his head before this start. But he found a way to go out there and not only an outing where he got us a win, but he got us through an inning with the bases loaded and nobody out. He has to feel good about that."
Gibson's solid start that saw him strike out a season-high eight batters while allowing one run on seven hits will keep him in the rotation after being previously optioned twice this season. But Gibson was realistic about his situation and knows he has to keep it going.
"I'm not really looking for a turning point," Gibson said. "I'm just trying to maintain some consistent confidence in the plan I have. Anytime you can face a lineup and feel in control throughout the game, that's what confidence is to me. You have an idea it's going to work before you even throw a pitch and I had that feeling a lot again tonight, and I don't know how many times this year I've had that feeling consistently."
Gibson hadn't struck out more than six batters all season but came through when they were needed most against the White Sox after walking Nicky Delmonico to load the bases with nobody out in the third. But Gibson went to work, striking out Avisail Garcia, Yolmer Sanchez and Tim Anderson to wriggle his way out of the inning. Gibson got ahead of all three hitters and finished them off with an 0-2 slider, a 1-2 changeup and 1-2 slider in that order.
"Who would've thought I would strike out the side to get out of it? Probably nobody," Gibson said with a laugh.
Gibson settled down from there, reaching seven innings for just the second time this season and the first time since June 22, when he went a season-high 7 1/3 frames. But he allowed three runs that game so by the numbers, this was his best outing of the year, and it came at a time he and the Twins desperately needed it.
"I just want to be part of a team that makes the postseason," Gibson said. "Right now, I'm not trying to focus on the first four months. There's nothing I can do to change that. Every five days, I'm just trying to give us a chance to win. I appreciate they have confidence in me, but who knows? That could change. But I'm just going to try to get as many outs as I can."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and **Facebook**. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.