Blue Jays offence held in check by Gibson as Rangers claim rubber match

Kyle Gibson rebounded from a horrendous opening day start for Texas by striking out eight over six scoreless innings, and the Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 in the rubber game of their three-game series Wednesday.

Gibson (1-0) scattered six hits with one walk while throwing 55 of 82 pitches for strikes.

“It was just nice for Gibby to get back out there and do what we expected with all of the work this guy has put in,” manager Chris Woodward said. “He looked like the No. 1 today … He kind of set the tone.”

Six days earlier, in the first opening-day start for Gibson in his nine big league seasons, the Rangers led 5-0 at Kansas City before he had thrown his first pitch. But Gibson recorded only one out while facing eight batters and giving up five runs. It was the shortest opening day start in franchise history, the shortest in the majors since 1982 and the only time he failed he to get out of the first inning.

Nick Solak homered off left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu (0-1), who struck out seven without a walk over seven innings.

“He’s impressive, to see somebody pitch like that all of the time,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He’s our ace, and he gave us a chance.”

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Marcus Semien hit his third homer for the Blue Jays, a leadoff shot in the eighth.

Ian Kennedy, the third Texas reliever, struck out three around a hit in the ninth for his second save, both in less than 24 hours. The 36-year-old right-hander went to spring training on a minor league deal with Texas, which then lost potential closers Jose Leclerc and Jonathan Hernandez to injuries.

Gibson got an out against the Blue Jays on Semien’s flyball to left on the first pitch, and had five strikeouts the first time through the order. Toronto had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth after Semien walked before Cavan Biggio grounded into a double play.

“I don’t know that I really needed to do too much work in between the ears honestly,” Gibson said about his thoughts since the opener. “As I looked back on it … I ended up creating some of the damage that they did just by not having good command.”

Woodward said he would chalk up the first game to “opening day weirdness,” then added, “This is what we were expecting.”

Solak led off the Rangers second with his first home run this season. Catcher Jose Trevino reached on an infield single later in the inning and scored when Leody Taveras blooped a broken-bat single to short right.

Ryu has allowed only two runs in each of his two starts, with 12 strikeouts and only one walk, but the South Korean pitcher has gotten only three runs of support.

“Overall, it was a good outing,” Ryu said through a translator. “I was able to make sure the hitters got soft contact, and that allowed me to throw seven innings.”

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