Three extras from a loss that felt like a mistake:
Paul Molitor sounded like he believes the Royals were trying to change their history against Kyle Gibson with their aggressive approach on Tuesday. Seven times in the first five innings, KC batters put the first pitch in play against Gibson, a high number.
“I think it’s a little bit about how he’s done against them in the past, moreso than how he’s pitching of late,” the Twins’ manager said. “He’s got pretty good numbers against a lot of guys in that lineup. There are no secrets about what Gibson does and how he pitches these guys. They might have tried a little something a little different, to be more aggressive, and it paid off early.”
It was impressive, Molitor said, the way Gibson bounced back. He completed eight innings and needed only 101 pitches, 73 of them in the last seven innings.
“He was able to show that he’s got heart,” Molitor said, and he’ll be counted upon as the Twins try to stay in the pennant race.
“We’re not going to be positioned to set up anything, if we’re fortunate enough” to reach the postseason, Molitor said. “He’s in there and he’s going to get his chances to pitch from here on out. Keep him on his regular rhythm and see where it falls.”
Byron Buxton was back in the starting lineup Tuesday, and he impressed his manager by using his best weapon: His speed.
After reaching base on an infield single in the third inning, Buxton put himself in scoring position immediately by stealing second base, and he did it against All-Star catcher Salvador Perez.
“I’ve only seen him go a handful of times, but that might have been one of the better jumps,” Molitor said. “I think he was hoping to get another breaking ball on [Aaron Hicks’] 0-2 count, but he got a fastball which is obviously a tougher pitch to steal on. But he’s fast enough to outrun even a good throw by probably the best catcher in the league, so that was good to see.”
It was Buxton’s second career stolen base, on his fourth attempt.
Trevor Plouffe ended the first inning with a double-play ball to short, and he dampened any hope of a sixth-inning rally with another double-play grounder, also to shortstop Alcides Escobar. Plouffe had not hit into a double play in September, and had only four since Aug. 1, but he retains his place as the major-league leader in double-play grounders.
Plouffe now has 26 on the season, and he’s in position to easily break Harmon Killebrew’s single-season franchise record of 28, set in 1970. And that’s not the only 1970 record that Plouffe has endangered, either.
In that same season, Carlos May of the White Sox grounded into two double plays in a game six different times, setting a major-league record that Plouffe equaled on Tuesday.