Kyle Gibson and the Red Wings at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs today and it was so close...

A couple days ago I realized that the Rochester Red Wings were playing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at my back yard.  Literally, their ballpark (Coca Cola Park) is less than half an hour away from my door, so I make a point to go and see the Red Wings every year when they play there.  This was their second game here, and by choice I went today instead of yesterday, because Kyle Gibson was pitching.  There were a lot of conflicting reports about him and I wanted to see with my own eyes how he is doing...

Not the best day for a ball game, it was in the high 50s, overcast with occasional sprinkles here and there:

 The ball park is probably the best one in the minors and always a joy to be there (ok I might have home town bias :)  ) :

 I got to see Gibson pitch at the pen before the game and was fairly impressed.  His fastball was really popping in Eric Fryer's glove and both velocity and movement was there based on my point of view:

 After about 20 pitches I went back to my seat (1st row right next to the Red Wings dugout) from the outfield bullpen and watched the game.  I was very lucky to be there because this was a magnificent pitching performance by Gibson.  I came in with an open mind and nothing to expect and I left a strong believer in that Gibson is the best starting pitcher the Twins have today.  A bit about his performance (and I am not going to get into things like numbers, which you can read elsewhere:  He had four pitches that he threw when he wanted with a great command.  His fastball was his primary pitch and was sitting from 92-94 all night long.  It spiked to 95 a few times and went to 91 a couple.  It was at 94 in the 9th inning as well.  in the first 5 inning he mostly threw his fastball and his slider, which ran from 84 to 86 and really kept the IronPig hitters off balance causing a lot of swings and misses.  Have to mention that Gibson had impeccable command of the fastball: he would locate it up and down and inside and out.  And throw it at the dirt when he wanted to.  In the latest innings he started throwing more his changeup that was running from 81-83 mph with a good late motion; also he featured a tight slow curve (78-80 mph) that I did not realize he had.  He threw that pitch a few times late in the game.  He was totally on top of his game today.  In addition to what he did on the field, a thing that really impressed me was his composure in the dugout, knowing that he was having a no-hitter:  he was sitting there cheering his teammates and clapping when they were batting, instead of being "in his own world" and apathetic about the game.  This was a dominating performance that, I think that won him his first trip to the majors.   Frankly, I thought that I will witness history and it was that close...

Gibson being interviewed after the game:

It was Kyle Gibson's day but a few more observations about the team and a couple of players:  This looks like a close knit team with a lot of positive energy (A funny thing that happen was that when Antoan Richardson, who was the Red Wings' left fielder today, came back to the dugout, he got a hazing in jest by Clete Thomas, who did not play, and Brian Dinkelman, who was the first base coach, because the first IronPigs hit was at the left field...)

All players seemed to have fun but one.  And it was very obvious and the Twins as an organization have to do something to help him:  Joe Benson.   Joe was the starting Centerfielder today and had a great game at the field, getting to every ball that hit his way.  At the plate he had a 2-run scoring single in his third plate appearance, he almost ran out an infield hit in his fourth and struck out in his first 2 PAs against an IronPigs pitcher who threw 69-78 mph junk.  His body language was very obvious and a big sign that he is pressing and needs help.  After each unsuccessful plate appearance he went back to the dugout, slapping himself and sitting alone despondent with his head in his hands.  He needs help and coaching and needs someone of the Twins to tell him that it is not worth it.  He is still one of the top talents the Twins have and they should do something to help him.

Chris Colabello had another great night at the plate and played right field.  I will not be surprised if Chris Parmelee and him swap teams sometime soon.  His fielding at right was uneventful, but he is better than I thought on the base paths.  Speaking of base paths, Antoan Richardson late in the game hit a triple that would have been a double for most places and should have been an inside the park home run, if Gene Glynn (as a third base coach did not put the stop sign.)  Plenty of time to score but the Red Wings were up by ten at that point...  Chris Herrmann, another player who has been having a forgetable season so far, had a good game and looked like he enjoyed it.  Which is a good thing to see.

A few parting shots from the game:  

Chris Colabello:

 Brian Dinkelman, the first base coach:


Some of these guys will probably be starting for the Twins one of these days (Virgil Vasquez, Liam Hendriks, Cole DeVries) :

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