Kyle Gibson pounded his right hand into his glove after getting out of a two-on, no-out jam in the first inning Saturday. He did it again in the seventh after retiring the side in order to finish his strong outing.
The emotion spilled out of him because he could feel the energy that a sold-out Target Field provided.
“When we were out there warming up, I was taking a little chance to look around as I was walking out and there were probably 30,000 in the stands, 25-30 minutes before the game,” Gibson said following the Twins’ 10th victory in 11 games, 8-1 over the Chicago White Sox. “When you have that type of atmosphere taking the mound and you hear the buzz in the crowd, that’s something we talk about, and it’s something that we need. When you hear the buzz and you can’t hardly hear yourself think out there when a good thing happens, that’s a whole lot of fun to play behind.”
The Twins’ dominant start to the season has their fans leaning forward for a closer look. With an announced crowd of 39,139 on hand — their biggest home crowd since Opening Day — the Twins led wire-to-wire in beating Chicago for the second day in a row.
Ehire Adrianza, who belted a three-run homer in the eighth, and C.J. Cron each drove in four runs as the Twins moved to a major league-best 35-16. If they can complete a series sweep Sunday, the Twins will be a whopping 20 games over .500 on Memorial Day.
Their 51-game romp through the schedule has reinforced everything Gibson believed this team could be at the beginning of the season. Mainly, he knew the Twins could hit, so it is up to the starting pitchers to hold games close enough for the bats to take over.
And that’s what happened Saturday. Gibson gave up one run over seven innings — tying a season high for innings pitched — while holding Chicago to five hits and a walk with nine strikeouts. White Sox batters swung and missed 21 times, including 10 times on Gibson’s slider.
“He had full ability with his offspeed pitches,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “His slider looked very good at times, his changeup looked good. He did a few different things but, ultimately he commanded the ball well and did what he wanted to do with each of his pitches.”
Gibson didn’t have to wait for the offense to take over. They opened the scoring in the first inning when, after two-out walks to Jonathan Schoop and Eddie Rosario, Cron’s fly ball to right field baffled Charlie Tilson, who initially came in on the ball, then moved to his right as it floated away from him. Tilson dived at the last moment, and the ball ticked off his glove. Both runners scored on the “double” — Tilson was not charged an error, despite making a meal out of the play.
Jose Abreu hit the first pitch of the fourth inning into the seats in left that got Chicago within 2-1, Abreu’s third career home run off Gibson. But the Twins responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning, two coming when Cron guided an 0-2 pitch from White Sox lefthander Manny Banuelos through the left side of the infield for a single.
With a four-run lead, Gibson shut down Chicago the next three innings.
“I’ve told you guys about the offense and how it gives us confidence, and when the starting pitching’s able to go out there and throw well, you always have that feeling of, ‘Hey, this might be the inning, this might be the inning that the offense just puts up a big number,’ ” Gibson said. “The offense did a great job after I gave up the solo homer to Jose to come up and put up three, you know, build that cushion back up, and from there it allowed [catcher Willians] Astudillo and I to go out and attack and get ahead of guys.”