KANSAS CITY -- It's evident that Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson has taken a major step forward in his development as a starting pitcher in his second full season in the Majors, and with that has come trust from manager Paul Molitor.
It was clear on Thursday night against the first-place Royals, as Molitor kept Gibson in the game despite running into a jam in the eighth inning. Gibson allowed two runners to reach with one out, but he remained in the game despite being over 100 pitches, and Gibson was able to retire the heart of Kansas City's order to help lift Minnesota to a 2-0 win.
Gibson walked Mike Moustakas with one out to put the potential go-ahead run on base, but Molitor stuck with Gibson, who was able to strike out Lorenzo Cain and get Eric Hosmer to ground out to second to get through eight scoreless frames in one of his best outings of the year.
"You want to try to get your guys to bulldog through outs late in games," Molitor said. "It was touch-and-go about making moves there. He's got some numbers against those guys. And I thought he was still pitching really well and being aggressive. He just missed on a few pitches to Moustakas, but they were close. So it was tough. He was getting up there in pitches but I wanted to let him ride it out."
Gibson had already thrown 105 pitches when Cain came to the plate, but Molitor liked his chances of Gibson potentially getting a double-play ball. Instead, Gibson got his seventh strikeout, and remained in the game to face the left-handed hitting Hosmer, who rolled over a 2-2 slider on Gibson's 114th pitch to help preserve a one-run lead at the time. The eight innings tied a career-high while the 114 pitches were the second-most he's thrown in a game.
"When they left me in for Hosmer, I don't want to say I was surprised because I wanted to be in there, but I definitely appreciated it," Gibson said. "They showed a lot of confidence in me and allowed me to have some fun out there, so it was pretty good."
Gibson lowered his ERA to 3.04 in 16 starts in the process, and has a 2.45 ERA over his last four starts after hitting a rough patch in early June. His evolution has impressed Molitor, as Gibson has become one of the club's most dependable starters.
"You can speculate how he'll take it, but he's had a couple really good starts after a couple that were less in terms of command and things like that," Molitor said. "But he's developed a really good mentality about how he goes out there and the way he wants to perform to give our team a chance."