Two-out, two-strike grand slam epitomizes starter's struggles second time through lineup
By Kyle Beery
DETROIT -- Twins starter Kyle Gibson seemed to be cruising along through three innings of work in Detroit on Wednesday before things got away from him with a five-run fourth inning, capped by a two-strike, two-out grand slam surrendered to Austin Romine. Gibson retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before that brutal frame knocked him out of the 5-3 loss.
That is a similar pattern to what happened in his last start against Kansas City, in which he allowed two baserunners in the first four innings before losing his command in the fifth and sixth and allowing a pair of solo home runs.
So far this season, Gibson has pitched nine innings, and he thinks seven of them have been great -- he just hasn't been able to keep his stuff working when he gets into hot water.
"I felt like I was getting ahead of guys, using my fastball really well," Gibson said of the first three innings on Wednesday. "My sinker was moving pretty well and I made an adjustment this week on my slider and changeup to get my arm angle high enough. I thought that was pretty good. I think I just got in a situation where I didn't throw my fastball enough there in the fourth inning."
Through two starts, Gibson has a relatively low WHIP of 1.33 stacked up against an 8.00 ERA. Manager Paul Molitor said he saw some similarities between Gibson's two starts in terms of being close to escaping danger.
"He's one pitch away from getting off the field. That certainly changed the outcome of the game with one pitch," Molitor said, of the 1-2 offspeed pitch that Romine blasted to right field.
Gibson has struggled to get through the lineup a second time. Romine said he and the rest of the Tigers were able to make adjustments.
"I think that was the first time we'd seen him since we played them last year, six months ago, or whatever it was," Romine said. "Obviously, seeing someone for the first time, seeing their pitches, you've got to kind of re-lock it in your head -- 'This is what his pitches do, and this is where they're going to end up.' So I think the second time around, we kind of got a little more comfortable, and saw all the pitches he had thrown."
Gibson said he feels he is just a couple pitches away from having two really great starts, and wishes he had stuck to his fastball more in both of his starts.
"I'll look back at it and see if there are any patterns, see if there's something I can change," Gibson said.
Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.