Twins hope Gibson's return adds spark against Nats

Field Level Media

Kyle Gibson returns from a stint on the injured list to try for his 14th win on Thursday night when the Minnesota Twins face the Washington Nationals in the rubber game of a three-game interleague series in Minneapolis.

Gibson (13-6, 4.58 ERA) last pitched on Aug. 30 when he notched his second straight win over the Detroit Tigers, allowing four runs on 10 hits over five innings in a 13-5 victory at Comerica Park in Detroit.

The right-hander went on the 10-day IL two days later because of ulcerative colitis, an inflammation in his intestines that made it difficult for him to sleep at night. Gibson had a corticosteroid (anti-inflammation) shot that helped relieve some of his symptoms.

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"The last two weeks have progressed well," Gibson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I wouldn't say that I'm quite 100 percent, but I'm definitely on the road back and feel much better than I have the last month. So, I've been sleeping better, my stomach has been more consistent, and it's been refreshing, really."

Stomach issues are nothing new for Gibson. He got a late start to spring training after picking up E. coli during a mission trip to the Dominican Republic at the end of January, causing him to lose 20 pounds.

"I'm probably not quite where I want to be (from) where I was at the beginning of the season," Gibson said. "But, yeah, I think because I feel better, I'm good enough to go back out there and be able to compete better and give the team a chance to win."

Gibson had a 7.18 ERA in his last five starts before going on the injured list. His return is even more timely for the Twins (89-56), who lost arguably their most consistent starter over the last three months, right-hander Michael Pineda, for the rest of the season after he garnered a 60-game suspension from Major League Baseball on Saturday for testing positive for hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic.

Gibson will be making just his second career start against Washington (80-64). The first came in 2016, when he allowed seven runs on seven hits in three innings in an 8-4 loss at Nationals Park.

Left-hander Patrick Corbin (11-7, 3.16 ERA) will make his first career start against Minnesota. Corbin comes in off a 4-3 loss at Atlanta on Friday during which he allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and six walks in five innings while striking out nine.

Washington, which holds a 3 1/2-game lead over the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers for the top wild-card spot in the National League, bounced back from a 5-0 loss to the Twins in the series opener to even the series with a 6-2 win on Wednesday night.

The Nationals, behind a two-run home run by Ryan Zimmerman -- who finished with three hits and three RBIs -- staked Stephen Strasburg to an early 5-0 lead. Strasburg held the Twins to just two runs on four hits over six innings to pick up his National League-leading 17th victory.

"Scoring first is big," Zimmerman said after Washington improved to 55-25 this season when scoring first. "With the pitching staff that we have, if we can score first, they usually go out there and throw a couple of shutdown innings. And it kind of gets the other team on its heels."

--Field Level Media

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