By Rhett Bollinger and Jeffrey Flanagan
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson outdueled Edinson Volquez, and Oswaldo Arcia connected on a go-ahead two-run homer in the fourth inning to help lead the Twins to a 3-1 win and hand the Royals their first loss of the season on Wednesday night at Target Field.
Gibson surrendered just one run over 6 2/3 innings, scattering nine hits without walking a batter. It was a marked improvement from his first start, as he walked five batters and gave up six runs in a loss against the Tigers in his season debut. The lone run he allowed came on a two-out RBI single from Alex Gordon in the fourth.
"It looked a lot more like the team we thought we had coming out of spring," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I know you don't want to put a lot into the losses or one win, but when you get a good starting pitching performance, it makes everybody's job a lot easier."
Volquez was also solid, and actually outlasted Gibson, giving up three runs on five hits over 7 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts. He struggled early, loading the bases with nobody out in the first, but got out of that jam, allowing only one run on a sacrifice fly from Brian Dozier. But he served up a two-run blast to Arcia in the fourth, and it proved to be enough for the Twins, who improved to 2-6 on the year, while Kansas City fell to 7-1. The Royals fell short of reaching their franchise-best start of 9-0 in 2003.
"He'd like to have that one pitch back to Arcia," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Volquez, "but other than that, he was fantastic." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gibson bounces back: After lasting just 3 2/3 innings in his season debut, Gibson was much sharper against the Royals. He set the tone early, getting out of a first-inning jam with two on and nobody out with the help of a double-play grounder. He left with two on and two outs in the seventh, but lefty Brian Duensing was able to get Mike Moustakas to pop out in foul territory on a first-pitch slider.
"I was excited about it. It was a big situation," Duensing said. "Gibby threw well, and as a bullpen we wanted to shut it down for him because he deserved that win." More >
Snapping out of it: Royals left fielder Gordon, off to a slow start this season (.063 entering game), bounced back with two hits. He drove in the Royals' only run with a two-out single in the fourth -- that came on a 3-0 pitch and drove in Moustakas. All nine of the Royals' hits were singles.
"We hit some balls hard tonight to the outfield," Yost said, "but we just couldn't find any holes."
Arcia connects on his first homer: Arcia entered Wednesday's game hitting just .176 with no RBIs on the young season, but he came through in a big way in the fourth inning against Volquez. Despite falling behind 0-2, Arcia crushed a 1-2 fastball from Volquez to right field for a two-run homer after a two-out single from Trevor Plouffe.
"I felt good today," Arcia said. "It was a fastball away. I tried to hit it to center field, but it went to right-center field. Before today, it was a lot of swinging too hard and long swings, but today I kept my swing short and saw the ball better."
The Twins celebrated the 68th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier with a special ceremony before the game against the Royals.
Both teams wore No. 42 as part of Jackie Robinson Day festivities across the league.
"I don't think that was really anything. I think they knew they were going to lose at some point. But it was nice for us. Getting a win like that can hopefully get us some momentum." -- Gibson on handing the Royals their first loss of the year.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Good news for the Royals: Five of the six teams to start 6-0 in the Wild Card era made the playoffs. Bad news: The only one not to do so was the 2003 Royals. Kansas City was unable to become the first team to open a year 8-0 since that '03 Royals team.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Left-hander Jason Vargas takes the hill for the Royals in the 12:10 p.m. CT series finale Thursday against the Twins, whom he dominated in 2014. Vargas was 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA against the Twins in 2014. And he had a 1.29 ERA in three starts at Target Field.
Twins: Left-hander Tommy Milone is set to start for the Twins. Milone was impressive in his season debut against the White Sox on Friday, tossing 7 2/3 scoreless innings, so he'll be looking to build on that outing.