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KC@MIN: Pinto crushes a homer into second deck

MINNEAPOLIS -- Starting pitching and hitting, two aspects of a Twins team that had been M.I.A. during the three losses in this season-opening homestand, surfaced with a vengeance on Friday in a 10-1 shellacking of the Royals at Target Field.

On the mound, Kyle Gibson was brilliant, allowing only a first-inning run over 6 1/3 innings for his second victory. After escaping a 28-pitch opening frame with the one blemish, he settled down to stifle Royals hitters the rest of the way.

"I don't know that I really changed my approach," Gibson said. "I think last year, I definitely would've changed things and would've let that throw me off my game. I think I was executing pitches."

After permitting a leadoff double to Mike Moustakas in the second, Gibson didn't allow a Kansas City runner to reach second until the seventh.

"He throws that power sinker," said Twins interim manager Terry Steinbach. "[He] changes speeds and moves the ball around a little bit. He's something that we've read about for a couple years in Minnesota.

"It's no secret that we know our starting pitching is going to get better. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction. So for Gibby to go out there today and, one, eat up some innings and, two, put us in a really good chance to win a game, was something that we really needed."

Gibson went into Spring Training battling for a spot in the rotation. Now two weeks into the regular season, he's pitching like the staff ace.

"My changeup has been a big pitch for me this year," Gibson said. "It's really helped me keep hitters off of my fastball."

"Five hits was all we could muster all night long and one run," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It started out good for us; we got a run in the first inning. You're thinking, 'OK, we can add on to that,' but we never quite could."

Offensively, right fielder Chris Colabello led the attack with a two-hit, three-RBI night. He broke the game open with a two-run double in Minnesota's five-run fourth inning. He now leads the squad with 14 RBIs.

"I've come to terms with the fact that as a hitter our job is to hit the baseball hard," Colabello said. "When you do that, it alleviates a lot of the stress of thinking about getting hits and forcing your results. It's about making good contact and putting in a good AB every time up there."

Several Twins hitters contributed to the 11-hit attack, including multi-hit efforts from Trevor Plouffe and Kurt Suzuki. Josmil Pinto slugged a deep homer to left in the fourth, and Joe Mauer picked up his first RBI of the season in that same inning.

"The offense came through," Steinbach said. "The thing that sticks out in my mind was the two-out hits we got. We capitalized on hitting with guys in scoring position, and it kind of broke the game open for us."

Steinbach, who was filling in for skipper Ron Gardenhire while he attends a funeral, gets a "W" in his first crack at managing at any level.

"The players took care of me, let's put it that way," Steinbach said. Comments