Royals still baffled by Gibson's two-seamer

Royals still baffled by Gibson's two-seamer

KANSAS CITY -- Royals hitters kept trying to anticipate Twins starter Kyle Gibson's two-seam fastball, the kind that starts out at a left-handed hitter's hip, and darts back in over the corner.

But each time they looked for that pitch, Gibson snapped a slider going the other way. Or a changeup that nose-dived into the dirt.

No matter what, Royals hitters again were perplexed by Gibson in a 2-0 loss on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. The right-hander gave up just four hits and struck out seven over eight shutout innings.

"There's nothing you can do," manager Ned Yost said. "You've got to wait and get a mistake, and then not miss it. When he pitches as good as he pitched tonight, you just battle, fight pitches off, try to find balls that can get hit to the outfield grass. And if you get a mistake, don't miss it."

The Royals didn't get many mistakes, it seemed. Or if they did, they certainly missed them. They had two hard-hit singles, one by Lorenzo Cain and one by Omar Infante. They also had two bunt singles to beat the shift.

"He's just really learned how to use that two-seamer," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "He gets you looking for that and then he puts the slider in the same spot going the other way. It's tough. It was his night."

Gibson keeps Royals scoreless

Cain was one of the few Royals who seemed to see Gibson well. Cain ripped a hard single to the 5-6 hole, and he also lined out to third.

But even Cain was lamenting his strikeout in the eighth with two runners on and one out.

"He threw a two-seamer that seemed way outside," Cain said, "then I could see it starting to come back in. I tried just to flick it away, waste it. But I missed. It was in a perfect spot.

"I've got to come through in those situations."

It's not exactly the first time Gibson has owned the Royals. He came into the game at 4-2 with a career 2.68 ERA against them.

"Like I said, he's really learning how to use his pitches," Hosmer said.

"He got us tonight and we'll come back tomorrow," Cain said.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.