Gibson looking to build off 1st post-break win

Gibson looking to build off 1st post-break win

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson was undoubtedly the Twins' best starter in the first half, posting a 2.85 ERA in 18 outings, but he hasn't looked the same in the second half.

Gibson, though, took a step forward on Friday night, tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings to lead the Twins to a 3-0 win over the Astros. It was his first victory since his final start of the first half on July 12, as he entered 0-3 with a 7.22 ERA in seven outings since the All-Star break.

Gibson scattered four hits and three walks, and his only regret was that he didn't get deeper into the game, as the Astros worked several long plate appearances against him, including a 12-pitch at-bat from Jake Marisnick in the third.

"I probably should've gone seven or eight tonight, so that's the only frustrating part about it," Gibson said. "But any time you can leave an outing healthy without giving up any runs is a good thing. It's a little frustrating I couldn't get into the seventh or eighth but throwing 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball, you're giving your team a chance to win, obviously."

Gibson has blamed his lack of fastball command for his recent struggles, but said he made progress last time out when he gave up two runs over 5 2/3 frames against the Orioles and that it was even better on Friday.

"It's getting back there," Gibson said. "I still don't think my fastball command is where I want it to be, but it was better tonight. I had some glove-side sinkers that were like I was before the All-Star break. I definitely haven't been as good as I want to be post All-Star break, but hopefully these last couple starts give me some momentum."

Twins manager Paul Molitor was pleased by what he saw from Gibson, but noted he had a little trouble putting away hitters and the defense missed a few plays, including a popup that landed in foul territory among a trio of defenders.

"He was effective, there was no doubt about that," Molitor said. "But it was just about some long counts and those guys doing a good job of battling with two strikes."

It was a much-needed strong outing, as Twins starters combined to post a 5.27 ERA over the 10-game road trip that saw the club go 6-4. Molitor said Gibson will be counted on during the stretch run and he's hoping Gibson will be able to build on his effort.

"The starts haven't been particularly effective here as we've found ways to win games over the last week," Molitor said. "You hope they start giving a little bit more because if they don't the situation with the bullpen becomes difficult. You hope he'll be a leader with that and find a way to give you more innings as you close down the season here."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.