Kyle Gibson takes perfect game into 7th inning

Kyle Gibson takes perfect game into 7th inning

PHILADELPHIA – Kyle Gibson started to think about the possibility probably at the same time as everybody else.

He started to think about a perfect game in the fourth inning.

“I don’t know how guys don’t think about it that early,” Gibson said following Friday night’s 7-2 victory over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. “Once you make it the first time through the order and you’re in the fourth inning and you haven’t had a baserunner, you’re thinking about it.”

Gibson carried a perfect game into the seventh before he hit Nationals center fielder Victor Robles with a 1-1 sinker on the left elbow. He lost a no-hitter two pitches later when Luis García hit a 1-0 sinker to left for a single. In the end, Gibson allowed one run and two hits in eight innings.

It was the best start of his Phillies career.

“Kyle was fun,” Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto said. “He was a lot of fun to catch. He was throwing five, six pitches to both sides of the plate. He was attacking guys, getting ahead of guys. That was the sharpest I’ve seen his stuff this year. It was the best I’ve seen him.”

The Phillies won for the eighth time in nine games, improved to a season-high 10 games over .500 at 58-48 and held onto the third NL Wild Card spot. It is the first time Philadelphia has been 10 games over .500 since June 8, 2019, when it was 37-27. It is the first time it has been 10 games over .500 this late in a season since Aug. 31, 2018, when it was 72-62.

“We feel like our best baseball is ahead of us,” Realmuto said. “We’re going to get our MVP [Bryce Harper] back here real soon and that’s going to help us a lot. We’ve just got to keep it rolling.”

Gibson retired the first 18 batters he faced, putting himself in position to pitch the third perfect game in Phillies history and the 14th no-hitter in Phillies history, including Roy Halladay’s no-hitter in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS. The Phillies have not pitched a no-hitter since Cole Hamels threw one in his final start for the team on July 25, 2015, at Wrigley Field.

But something fun has been happening in Philadelphia these past two-plus months. The Phillies are 36-19 (.655) since Rob Thomson became interim manager on June 3. It is the third-best record in the National League during that time. Only the Braves (39-16) and Dodgers (38-16) have been better.

There was a true buzz at the ballpark Thursday night for Noah Syndergaard’s debut.

But it really grew with every clean inning Gibson pitched.

“His two-seamer was really good,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “His cutter was good. He didn’t throw a slider for a strike until, like, the third time through the order. But man, that was pretty nasty. We just had to try to get the ball up a little more, but like I said, his ball was moving quite a bit.”

Alec Bohm made a fantastic diving stop on a ground ball from Ildemaro Vargas with two outs in the sixth. He stood up and threw him out to end the inning.

“As soon as he made that play, in my head, I’m like, ‘There it is, there’s the marquee play that every no-hitter and perfect game needs,’” Realmuto said.

But Gibson tired in the seventh. It was his first start since July 27. He went on the bereavement list last week because his 84-year-old grandmother Von Gibson passed away back home in Indiana. Gibson kept up on his throwing program while he was away, but he could not keep up with his cardio and other prep work.

Von Gibson was not a huge baseball fan, but she was proud of her grandson who pitched in the big leagues.

Gibson said he took that inspiration to the mound.

His 105th and final pitch Friday was a 2-2 slider that dove out of the zone. Robles swung over it. He missed.

Gibson punched his right hand into his glove as he walked off the mound.

“Just to cap off a fun night,” Gibson said. “Release a little bit of emotion and have fun.”

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