Kyle Gibson had thrown 91 pitches over six innings but believed he had one more in him.
So he approached coach Rick Anderson with an idea: Leave him in until a runner reaches base.
“I’ve seen enough of your weak stuff,” Anderson jokingly told the rookie. “You are done for the day.”
Gibson chuckled as he told the story. There might be a game down the road when a more-seasoned Gibson can persuade his pitching coach to leave him in for one more inning. Saturday wasn’t that day. It already was a day worth remembering for Gibson and the Twins after he went six solid innings in a 6-2 victory over Kansas City at Target Field.
Gibson became the first Twins first-round draft pick to win his major league debut. Nine others, from Eddie Bane to Matt Garza, tried and failed. What helped Saturday was that the Twins slapped the Royals with a five-run first inning, enabling Gibson to settle in.
“I’m just soaking this one in right now,” said Gibson, who left tickets for 32 friends and family members and estimated an additional 15 showed up for the game. “I’m sure in the next couple of days I’ll get the report about the Yankees [his next scheduled opponent] and start thinking about it. I’m going to soak this up as much as possible with my family and have a good night with them.”
He gave up two runs on eight hits while issuing no walks and striking out five. Eric Hosmer singled with two outs in the first for the first hit off him. But Gibson got Billy Butler swinging to end the inning, his first major league strikeout.
The game began with Gibson’s first pitch socked to left by Alex Gordon, but it was run down by Oswaldo Arcia.
“I tend to do that against guys in their major league debuts,” Gordon said. “It didn’t work out this time.”
Said Gibson, “That was pretty unexpected, honestly.”
Gibson settled in, throwing fastballs about 93-94 miles per hour early in the game before settling in around 92. He used his slider to finish off hitters. He threw first-pitch curveballs. He pitched inside frequently. He had a game plan and followed it as well as he could.
“It looked like he was pounding righties in with the slider and sinker,” Gordon said. “He was kind of staying away with us [lefties] by using his changeup and fastball. He was hitting his spots.
“I thought we put some good at-bats together. Just not enough. We had some opportunities and didn’t get it done. I don’t know if he’s going to have a good career, but he had a good first game.”
The Twins made things easier on him with their five-run first. Two runs scored on Justin Morneau’s double. Trevor Plouffe socked a two-run homer. Pedro Florimon added an RBI single.
It all came off Wade Davis, who threw 53 pitches in the first inning. He loaded the bases in the second and was removed. He threw 69 pitches in recording only three outs — which, according to baseball-reference.com, is the most ever.
Gibson had to sit through a long bottom of the first inning. Before the top of the second, he did some shoulder stretches, then asked plate umpire Ron Kulpa for a couple of extra warmup pitches, that savvy guy.
Gibson gave up RBI singles to Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez in the third inning, but that was all the Royals could get off the University of Missouri product. Brian Duensing, Casey Fien and Glen Perkins finished, with Fien striking out two with the bases loaded in the eighth to get out of a jam.
And afterward, Gibson was owner of a game ball.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a while,” manager Ron Gardenhire said, “and I’m sure he was too, going to through the elbow [surgery in 2011] and the rehab and all the hard work he’s put in. It is a big moment for him to have all his family able to come up here and be in the stands and watch. That’s always cool.’’