Kyle Gibson is feeling stronger every time he gets to pitch.
”I’m just trying to keep developing into the guy I want to be,” he said, ”and you’ve got to go deep into the games when your team gives you a lead like that.”
Gibson pitched his first nine-inning complete game and Minnesota beat Atlanta 10-3 on Wednesday night despite two hits from hyped Braves prospect Dansby Swanson in his big league debut.
Juan Centeno drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth, and Minnesota swept the two-game series of the major leagues’ two worst teams.
The Braves showed why they’re five games worse than the Twins, dropping to 18-41 at home despite Swanson’s strong first game for his hometown team.
Gibson (5-7) began the night with a 7.98 ERA in three starts this month, but he had little trouble dominating the majors’ weakest offense.
Gibson scattered eight hits, three runs, three walks and struck out six. Nick Markakis’ ninth homer made it 10-3 in the ninth.
The Braves put on a clinic of bad baseball in the top of the ninth as Jason Hursh, the fifth of six Atlanta pitchers, issued three straight walks that led to four runs and a 10-2 lead.
Centeno made it 3-2 in the sixth with a soft RBI single that bounced in left-center field. Gibson was grateful that manager Paul Molitor let him hit for himself.
”When we took the lead 3-2,” he said, ”that was the inning I was hoping I was going to get left in.”
Gibson had one previous complete game when he went eight innings in a 4-2 loss at Kansas City last Sept. 8.
Eric O’Flaherty (1-4) let the first two batters reach in the seventh and was replaced by Ian Krol, whose wild pitch advanced the runners. After an intentional walk, two runs scored before Robbie Grossman’s bloop RBI single made it 6-2.
Atlanta, which ranks last in runs scored, missed a chance with one out in the fifth when Gibson intentionally walked Freddie Freeman and got Matt Kemp to ground into a double play.
The Braves made it 2-2 in the third on Freeman’s 24th homer. Other than that two-run shot, the loudest cheers were for Swanson, the No. 1 overall draft pick of 2015 and a new fan favorite who grew up in nearby Marietta.
Swanson received a standing ovation from the small crowd in the second and lined out. He went to the opposite field again in the fourth for a single, struck out in the seventh and singled up the middle in the ninth.
”It’s probably as close to a dream come true as possible,” Swanson said. ”That’s the only way you can really sum it up. Playing for your hometown team and basically going out there and doing what you’ve worked your whole life for is pretty special.”
Minnesota led 2-0 in the first on Max Kepler’s RBI single and Tyler Plouffe’s RBI double. Plouffe had three hits and three RBIs.
Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz gave up five hits, two runs, three walks and struck out seven in five innings. He threw two wild pitches.
O’Flaherty allowed three hits, three runs, two walks and struck out two in one inning.