Gibson goes 6-0 with 10-K start vs. Royals

Rangers right-hander atones for rough Opening Day start in Kansas City

June 27th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- The last time faced the Royals, it was an unfortunate Opening Day start, in which he exited the game in the first inning having recorded just one out and posting an ERA of 135.00.

On Saturday afternoon at Globe Life Field, Gibson redeemed himself by throwing seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts en route to an 8-0 Rangers win. Texas will go for a three-game sweep on Sunday.

Gibson said this one definitely felt a little sweeter because of that Opening Day start.

“I've been talking about it for the last couple days, like trying to get a little revenge game, so it felt good,” said Gibson, now 6-0, who established a franchise record for the longest season-opening unbeaten streak by a starting pitcher.

“Sometimes confidence follows a little bit of success and I try to not let my confidence be rooted in the results. It's something that I've learned over the years. You can't let your confidence be shaken by one start or anything and a lot of my confidence on the mound comes from my preparation.”

Gibson also said that after talking with co-pitching coaches Doug Mathis and Brendan Sagara, he tweaked a small “delivery thing” that made a world of difference in Saturday’s start. Royals manager Mike Matheny said Gibson made very few mistakes and located all of his pitches well.

The right-hander was perfect through four innings and ultimately settled for just two hits and one walk, while recording 20 swings and misses. His 10 strikeouts are the most he’s notched as a Ranger and the second most of his career. It’s his third career game with double-digit strikeouts, as he lowered his season ERA to 2.00.

Gibson said he realized that he could have a perfect game going pretty early on, but especially after a leaping grab by shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the fourth inning kept the scorecard clean.

“I thought we were gonna maybe witness something special there,” manager Chris Woodward said. “He was getting swings and misses. [Catcher Jose Trevino] kept coming back saying, ‘This is the best I've ever seen him.’ I feel like there was a chance there, that he may do something pretty special. I didn't say it, but you can just feel it.”

Gibson and the Rangers’ defense were able to preserve the shutout by getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning. Ryan O’Hearn and Kelvin Gutierrez logged back-to-back hits to lead off the frame and break up the perfect game bid. Gibson walked Jorge Soler to load the bases before getting a strikeout and inducing a double-play ball to end the inning.

Gibson said that he usually goes right to his sinker in those situations, but with Kansas City’s Michael A. Taylor at the plate, he played with the sinker-slider combo to get ahead in the count and ultimately force the double play.

“Whenever there's a guy on first, I'm searching for double play,” Gibson said. “In those situations, I mean I don't strike out the side a lot anyway, so I'm not looking for that. I'm looking for a way to get a double play and to minimize the damage there.”

Joey Gallo fueled the offense with a pair of mammoth homers -- his 10th career multi-homer game. The first was a three-run jack that traveled a Statcast-projected 451 feet and gave the Rangers a 6-0 cushion in the fourth. His second (445 feet) was a two-run blast in the eighth off Wade Davis.

Woodward said this may be the best he’s seen Gallo, who finished 2-for-3 with two walks, play since he took over as manager in 2019. While the numbers in ‘19 may look better -- .253/.389/.598 with a .986 OPS -- both Woodward and Gallo agree that he's a more complete player in ‘21.

Gallo is now hitting .286/.453/.612 with five home runs over his last 15 games.

“It's experience and growth and maturity,” Gallo said. “It's my fifth year now and it's not that long, but it's a lot of games. It’s just experience and for me not panicking. I know I wasn't killing it early in the year, but I felt like I was still playing well and getting on base. I knew it was just how baseball goes. That's just kind of how you have to approach things in baseball, so that's something that I learned along the way.”