TORONTO – Yes, Kyle Gibson takes a break from focusing on his pitching to admire his teammates as they tee off on opponents.
“If I’m not enjoying myself every five games, I’m losing out on 32 times of watching a really good team play some baseball,” Gibson said, “so I’m trying to have as much fun as I can every day.”
He spent another night getting up from his spot on the bench to celebrate with Twins players who had just crossed home plate, again and again and again. It’s been a constant over the last week and a half, during which the Twins have played some of their best baseball of the season.
Wednesday night was no different, as they bashed the Blue Jays 9-1 — their latest dominant victory that completed a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays and punctuated a 7-3 stretch during which they battled with the Astros at home, then the Yankees and Blue Jays on the road. They won seven games despite dropping two of three in New York.
With Tampa Bay losing 3-2 in 13 innings to Arizona on Wednesday, the Twins now own the best record in baseball at 23-12. And against an inexperienced squad such as the Blue Jays, it was a mismatch.
“Any time you can come back home with a winning road trip, it’s a good thing,” Gibson said. “The offense is giving this team a lot of confidence. I don’t remember who I was talking to, but that’s really what drives team confidence is when your offense is putting up six, seven, eight runs every night.”
The Twins outscored the Blue Jays 20-1, the fewest runs they have given up in a three-game series in 15 years. Their pitchers crafted a 25-inning scoreless streak dating back to Sunday in the Bronx. They didn’t commit an error in the series. They slugged eight home runs. Toronto had only two runners reach third base during the series.
On Wednesday, Jorge Polanco went 5-for-5 with a home run — his second five-hit game of the season. He’s only the fifth Twin to have multiple five-hit games in the same season, joining Joe Mauer (2010), Denard Span (2009), Kirby Puckett (1990) and Tony Oliva (1965).
“It’s very fun to be a part of this team,” said Polanco, who’s batting .344. “This is a very good team and we’re competing together and things are going good.”
Gibson (3-1) struck out five Blue Jays his first time through the order and had eight strikeouts through four innings. He tied a career high with his 10th strikeout in the fifth. And when Randal Grichuk went down swinging to end the sixth, Gibson had his career-high 11th strikeout. In six innings, Gibson held the Blue Jays to two hits and a walk. Billy McKinney’s home run in the fifth was Toronto’s only run of the series.
The Twins gave Gibson a 7-0 lead through three innings, including two-run home runs by Polanco, C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop, and continued a series-long trend of grabbing an early lead and never relinquishing it. They are 18-4 when scoring first this season.
For the month, Twins starters have a 1.41 ERA and the offense is averaging 5.6 runs per game. Now the team heads back to Target Field for a four-game series starting Friday against Detroit — including a split doubleheader Saturday — after stringing together some impressive collections of pitching, hitting and defense.
“If we go on any sort of a winning streak or losing streak, we basically show up with the same mentality,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “As long as that continues to happen, I think we are going to be in a good place.”