The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

June 29, 2013

Gibson pitches well enough to win MLB debut

MINNEAPOLIS — Kyle Gibson wasn't dominant in his first major league start, but he still pitched well enough to make a bit of Minnesota Twins history and give the team a reason to be optimistic about the future of its pitching staff.

Four years after being Minnesota's top pick in the 2009 draft, Gibson pitched six solid innings, and Trevor Plouffe homered to help the Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 6-2 on Saturday.

The long road from draft day to starting pitcher included a Tommy John-surgery detour, but it ultimately ended with Gibson becoming Minnesota's first first-round pick to win a start in his major league debut.

He did it in front of about 30 family members and friends.

"It was an amazing day, really," Gibson said. "I was pretty nervous the last couple of days leading up to it, and was able to calm the nerves somehow. I think seeing a couple of familiar faces before I started throwing, and a little prayer before the game definitely helped me calm my nerves, but it was a great day."

Gibson (1-0) allowed two runs and eight hits, and he struck out five. He allowed two runs in the third inning on RBI singles by Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez, and he hit Escobar in the fifth. But he worked out of several jams and recorded his first 1-2-3 inning in the sixth thanks to some nice defense by Pedro Florimon at short.

"We've been waiting for this for a while, and I'm sure he has, too," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Going through the elbow thing, and all the rehab and all the hard work that he's put in, it's a big moment. A big moment for him."

Gibson had plenty of early help as Minnesota scored five in the first inning. Wade Davis (4-6) was yanked after giving up another run in the second with no one out. The one-inning outing marked Davis' shortest outing of the season for the Royals, who have lost seven of 10.

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