CHICAGO – Kyle Gibson could not get out of the fourth inning during his first start of the season, April 9 at Detroit. Since then, he has posted a 1.88 ERA.
Sunday, he had another outing to suggest that he’s emerging as a top-line starter, when he held the White Sox to one run over eight innings in the Twins’ 8-1 victory.
He gave up four hits, didn’t walk a batter and tied a career high with eight strikeouts.
Manager Paul Molitor let Gibson throw 106 pitches, 73 for strikes, before putting in Brian Duensing.
“Gibson was locked in,” Molitor said. “We rode him as long as we could.”
This was the fourth time in 50 major league starts Gibson has gone eight innings, including both of his starts against the White Sox this year. He has yet to throw a complete game.
He joked that he had a plan with catcher Chris Herrmann to lobby to pitch the ninth.
“I told Herm, ‘Hey, I’m going to have a short [eighth] and you are going to lobby for me to go back out for the ninth,’ ” he said. “I didn’t have short enough of an inning there.”
Run the bases
Molitor wants his players to be aggressive and fearless and to take advantage of the other team whenever they can. Especially on the basepaths.
“Baserunning has been good and bad,” he said. “Generally, they are understanding of what I hope to see in terms of intelligence and aggressiveness and understanding risk and reward. We’re seeing some of those things pay off. We make a couple of mistakes, but that’s how we learn.”
There was evidence of that in the fourth inning Sunday. Torii Hunter reached on an infield single off pitcher Jose Quintana’s glove. Joe Mauer scored from third and Trevor Plouffe moved to second.
It was a close play at first, so Chicago was debating a replay challenge. Plouffe took off for third, believing time had not been called. But it had, so he had to return to second. Still, he showed he was thinking aggressively.
“I’m not sure time had been called,” Molitor said.
Eduardo Escobar then lofted a fly down the right field line that Avisail Garcia ran down and caught. Plouffe tagged for third. Hunter also tagged as Garcia, playing on a sore right knee, had to slow down before he could turn, plant and throw to second. Hunter was safe by a hair. Both runners then scored on Eddie Rosario’s single.
“We had two guys in scoring position on a ball hit to right,” Molitor said. “And that’s the way to play.”
• Class AA Chattanooga outfielder Max Kepler was named Twins minor league player of the week after he went 12-for-24 in seven games. That included two home runs, nine RBI and a .571 on-base percentage. The 22-year-old from Germany is batting .345 at Chattanooga with two home runs and 15 RBI in 29 games.
• Twins righthander Casey Fien (shoulder) pitched a scoreless inning for Class AAA Rochester on Saturday in his first outing of his rehabilitation assignment, walking one. He will take two days off, then work back-to-back games. He could return to the Twins in time for the weekend series against Toronto.
• If any Twins starter falters, there’s someone at Rochester ready to step in: Lefthander Tommy Milone is 4-0 with a 0.28 ERA since being demoted after going 8⅓ innings Sunday against Norfolk. He was going for a second consecutive shutout when he gave up a homer with one out in the ninth, ending his scoreless-innings streak at 31⅔.
• Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia (hip) has joined Rochester and should be in the lineup on Monday to begin his rehab stint.