Saddled with little support at San Diego, Kirby lost 20 games (the league high) as a rookie in 1969, and 18 in 1973, but registered a fine 15-13 (231 strikeouts) with the last-place Padres in 1971. He was 12-9 and 10-6 with the heavy-hitting Reds in 1974 and 1975.
On July 21, 1970 manager Preston Gomez of the Padres pinch hit for Kirby in the eighth inning of a game against the Mets in which he had not allowed a hit, but was losing 1-0. On September 4, 1974 Kirby was in the Reds’ dugout when the Astros’ Don Wilson was losing a no-hitter 2-1 after eight innings. Kirby’s teammate Don Gullett asked what the odds were that Gomez, managing the Astros, would pinch hit for Wilson; Kirby replied, “I guarantee he will.” He was right.