BALTIMORE – Eddie Rosario didn’t know. Ryan Pressly didn’t know. Paul Molitor knew, but he didn’t care. Kyle Gibson knew, but he wasn’t happy.
Gibson may have had the Twins on track toward the earliest no-hitter in major league history on Saturday, but apparently it would have come as a complete surprise to his team.
“It was more of an afterthought,” Molitor said after the Twins failed to complete the franchise’s seventh no-hitter but succeeded in completing a 6-2 victory over the Orioles. “It’s a part of history for sure, but it wasn’t my priority.”
Jonathan Schoop smacked a line drive into center field in the eighth inning, ending the mild drama and leaving Pressly to wonder why the Camden Yards crowd erupted at the hit. “I thought they hit a home run, but it was just a single,” Pressly said. “I really didn’t know. You can’t see the scoreboard from the bullpen.”
You can see it from left field, but Rosario was equally shocked to learn why he got such a strong reaction when he slid to catch Trey Mancini’s sinking liner in the sixth inning, juggled it in front of his face, and plucked it out of the air with his bare hand. “Everybody said, ‘Ahhhhhh!’ ” Rosario said animatedly. “I said, ‘Oh no — there’s a no-hitter.’ ”
The bafflement was understandable, though, because as Gibson admitted himself, he wasn’t at his best. He threw 102 pitches in only six innings — thus removing any possibility of Molitor allowing him to complete the no-hitter — and only 56 were for strikes. He walked five batters, which ties his career high.
“That was an interesting outing,” Gibson said after winning his seventh consecutive decision, dating to Aug. 22. “I’m never going to be happy walking five guys.”
But nobody could argue with the final score. “It wasn’t a smooth six scoreless, no-hit innings, but we’ll take the results every time,” Molitor said “He was frustrated with the walks. But he made a lot of good pitches when he needed to.”
Andrew Cashner, the veteran righthander making his Orioles debut, made far fewer. Miguel Sano, Jason Castro and Max Kepler all hit long home runs, Brian Dozier collected a pair of hits and scored three times, and Joe Mauer reached base three times and drove in a run.
“This park, particularly in the summertime, is a little bit home run friendly, but not so much early in the year. We saw the other day, a couple balls kind of died out there. But the ones we hit tonight were no-doubters,” Molitor said. “Kepler’s looked more like a golf club, the way that ball took off. It was low, but it had tremendous carry.”
Molitor hopes Gibson’s outing has carry, too. Jake Odorizzi used a fastball-centric approach in six shutout innings on Thursday, Molitor noted, and “hopefully [Gibson] took some notes from that.”
He seemed to, even though his control was clearly off, whether affected by the chilly 50-degree March weather or his own season-opening nerves. Gibson walked five, though never more than one in an inning. Manny Machado walked twice, as did Trey Mancini. Adam Jones drew a walk in Gibson’s final inning.
Was Gibson disappointed to come out? Not at all.
“Mollie has many jobs to do, and one of them is trying to make sure we stay healthy,” Gibson said. “I knew my pitch count was high. I’m OK with those guys coming in and locking it down.”
Actually, it almost got away. Pressly pitched two innings, but Baltimore’s Tim Beckham smacked a two-run homer off rookie lefthander Gabriel Moya in the ninth, preventing the earliest shutout in Twins history.