MINNEAPOLIS -- It was the kind of performance the Twins had been hoping to see from Kyle Gibson all season, and it came just days after Minnesota was close to acquiring Atlanta's Jaime Garcia, which could've put Gibson's spot in the rotation in jeopardy.
Gibson was expected to be counted on as a key member of the rotation, but instead he's struggled and was even optioned to Triple-A Rochester in early May to iron out his issues. Since his return, he's been better, but still has had issues with his consistency. Against the Tigers on Saturday, however, Gibson was impressive, throwing 7 1/3 solid innings in a 6-5 win over the Tigers at Target Field.
It was the best outing of the year for Gibson, who hadn't gone longer than six innings in any of his 17 starts. But his line score was hurt by an eighth inning that saw two inherited runs score, causing him to get charged with three runs on five hits and three walks.
"Gibby was really good, and I don't know if you want to call it his best start or whatever, but we talk about his strike percentage when things aren't going well and this might've been his best," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He threw first-pitch strikes, and I thought he had good stuff."
Gibson was efficient and benefited from good fastball command, getting 12 ground-ball outs, including a stretch of retiring 14 out of 15 batters from the first to sixth innings. And 68 of his 102 pitches went for strikes, including a streak of throwing 13 straight first-pitch strikes. Gibson, though, said he didn't feel physically sharp, but was able to locate his fastball and was helped by catcher Jason Castro's game-calling.
"Thankfully, I had good fastball command," Gibson said. "I thought it was the offspeed where I wasn't feeling physically strong and got hurt. I missed some sliders. But when you get a five-run lead like that, and they're patient, and then get aggressive on pitcher's pitches, you just have to stay keen on that."
Detroit didn't score until the eighth on a one-out RBI double from Alex Presley, who had three of the five hits off Gibson. Gibson left with two runners on, and Taylor Rogers served up a three-run homer to Justin Upton. With the two runs getting charged to Gibson, it hurt his stat line, but he still feels like he's heading in the right direction, even though he knows the Twins are actively looking for pitching help.
"It's part of the mental grind I've been on this year," Gibson said. "I'm trying not to look at numbers or anything. I'm just trying to give my team a chance to win. Hopefully, if they get another pitcher they'll put me in the 'pen or whatever they need me to do. But I'm just trying to be a guy they can rely on every five days. It's been rocky this year, but for the most part over the last couple months, I feel good about what's been going on."