Ryan Zimmerman has made his presence felt since returning from a long absence due to a foot injury and looks to continue his power surge when the Washington Nationals visit the Minnesota Twins for the rubber match of a three-game interleague set Thursday. Zimmerman had three hits, including a two-run blast, and three RBIs as the Nationals evened the series with a 6-2 victory Wednesday to improve to 10-6 against the American League this year.
Zimmerman is 7-for-24 with three homers and 10 RBIs in seven contests since returning from almost six weeks on the injured list, adding to a potent Washington offense that has been key to the club's march toward a comfortable position as the National League's top wild card. Left-hander Patrick Corbin will try to give the Nationals a series victory when he faces Minnesota for the first time Thursday and the Twins hand the ball to right-hander Kyle Gibson, who is 4-9 with a 5.47 ERA in interleague play. Minnesota saw its lead in the AL Central shrink to four games over Cleveland with the loss after going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position Wednesday as the team continues to be cautious with four injured regulars sitting out. C.J. Cron (thumb), Miguel Sano (back), Max Kepler (shoulder) and Marwin Gonzalez (oblique) all missed the middle game of the series while Jorge Polanco belted a two-run homer for the only runs.
TV: 7:40 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), FS North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals LH Patrick Corbin (11-7, 3.16 ERA) vs. Twins RH Kyle Gibson (13-6, 4.58)
Corbin suffered his second loss in three outings last Friday at Atlanta when he allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and six walks over five innings while fanning nine. The 30-year-old New York native boasts 210 strikeouts as opposed to 60 walks over 179 2/3 innings, but has been better at home (7-2, 2.00 ERA) than on the road (4-5, 4.45). Corbin lost both his decisions against AL teams this year and is 7-6 with a 3.61 ERA in 19 career games (17 starts) during interleague play.
Gibson returns to the rotation after missing almost two weeks due to ulcerative colitis and will be going after his third straight victory. The 31-year-old Indiana native has already matched his career high total of 13 wins in 2014 and owns an improved 146-to-45 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 149 1/3 innings. Yan Gomes is 13-for-30 with a pair of homers and five RBIs versus Gibson, who gave up seven runs over three innings in his only career meeting with the Nationals to take the loss.
1. Minnesota INF-OF Luis Arraez is 16-for-36 during a nine-game hitting streak after recording three hits Wednesday.
2. Washington 3B Anthony Rendon is hitless in the series, but walked Wednesday to extend his on-base streak to 26 games.
3. Twins C Mitch Garver, who was rested in the second game of the series, boasts four homers and seven RBIs in his last three contests.