MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins needed a strong outing from a starter and Kyle Gibson delivered.
Gibson pitched into the seventh inning, Chris Colabello drove in three runs and Minnesota beat the Kansas City Royals 10-1 Friday night to end a nine-game home losing streak that dated to last season.
Josmil Pinto homered for the Twins, who reached double digits in runs for the third time this year.
“Gibby gave us the performance we needed and then our offense came through,” acting manager Terry Steinbach said.
Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire was away from the team and also is expected to miss Saturday’s game to attend the funeral for Michael Hirschbeck in Ohio. Hirschbeck, the son of umpire John Hirschbeck, died Tuesday at age 27. He had battled adrenoleukodystrophy, a disease that affects the brain and nervous system.
Mike Moustakas had two hits for Kansas City, which had won seven straight at Target Field.
“Five hits is all we could muster all night long,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It started out good for us, got a run in the first inning and you’re thinking, OK, we can add on to that. But never quite could.”
A 4-6 start to the season for Minnesota has been largely due to ineffective starting pitching. The Twins had received just two outings of six or more innings entering the game — only one quality start — and the other four starters besides Gibson have a combined 7.50 ERA.
“We’ve got a lot of good starting pitching,” Gibson said. “I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. Every starter goes out there in their mind to go deep, and just about every start each starter has been a couple pitches away.”
After a shaky first inning when he threw 28 pitches and gave up a run, Gibson (2-0) settled down and retired 14 of the next 18 batters. In 6 1-3 innings, he allowed five hits and one earned run while striking out three, lowering his ERA to 1.59.
It was the second straight strong outing for the right-hander, who won the fifth starter’s spot in spring training. He made his season debut last Saturday against Cleveland, giving up one run and three hits over five-plus innings.
“The only thing I can control each start is make sure I’m being aggressive,” Gibson said.
Kansas City starter Bruce Chen also was coming off a strong first performance, having allowed one earned run in six-plus innings against the White Sox last Saturday.
However, against a patient Twins lineup that worked many deep counts, the soft-throwing left-hander allowed seven hits and six earned runs in 3 2-3 innings. He struck out three and walked two, but only 48 of his 87 pitches were strikes. It was just the second time in nine games the Royals did not get a quality start.
“I wasn’t pounding the strike zone like I usually do. I wasn’t commanding my pitches as well as I wanted to and it ended up costing me,” Chen said.
Minnesota scored five times in the fourth against Chen (0-1) and reliever Louis Coleman.
With the Twins up 2-1, Pinto led off with a home run to the second deck in left field. Minnesota put two more runners on before Joe Mauer got his first RBI of the season with a two-out single to right field, chasing Chen.
With the bases loaded, Coleman threw his second wild pitch in as many batters, allowing a run to score, before Colabello lined a two-run double down the left field line for a 7-1 lead.
“When you get two-out hits, drive in some runs, it’s a real dagger to the other team,” Colabello said.
The first two Kansas City batters reached in the seventh before Gibson struck out Alcides Escobar. Brian Duensing got the final two outs of the inning.
Kurt Suzuki had a two-run double in the bottom half to make it 9-1.