SEATTLE -- As Twins manager Paul Molitor walked into the clubhouse following Minnesota's 2-1 win over the Mariners on Thursday night, he made eye contact with starter Kyle Gibson, lifted both of his fists in the air and simultaneously flexed his biceps.The gesture acknowledged another strong outing from the right-hander,
SEATTLE -- As Twins manager Paul Molitor walked into the clubhouse following Minnesota's 2-1 win over the Mariners on Thursday night, he made eye contact with starter Kyle Gibson, lifted both of his fists in the air and simultaneously flexed his biceps.
The gesture acknowledged another strong outing from the right-hander, who's reemerged after a rocky start to the season that warranted him being sent down to rediscover himself.
"[Gibson] had a really nice night," said Molitor. "I thought he was aggressive."
Gibson, who allowed one run on five hits and struck out four in six-plus innings, lowered his ERA from 7.23 to 6.52 with the outing. Posting an 8.20 ERA in his first six starts of the season prompted him being sent down to Triple-A Rochester. In his last three starts, he owns a 3.38 ERA.
Was being sent down the Minors a chance for Gibson to reset himself?
"100 percent," Gibson said. "For me, you never want to get sent down, but for me I think it was kind of a relief where I can go down there, hit the reset button, and starting to focus on a few things that I can do to get better. It's just really hard to do that up here. It's hard to go out there and work on things every five days and still be able to help your team win."
Thursday's line was encouraging, but the little things were what impressed Gibson. Executing a two-seam fastball on a 3-2 count to strike out Mariners' catcher Mike Zunino and strand two runners was a highlight.
"So many times, that exact pitch I've yanked and ended up walking guys on it," Gibson said of the crucial pitch. "I felt something in the 'pen this week that kind of helped keep my head and frontside on the ball a little better and little bit on the plate.
"It's those pitches right there that I gotta to be able to execute, and to me, times early on in the year, I would have yanked that ball and it would have been ball four. I think that's really why you saw a little bit of emotion. It's just because it's a pitch I had him set up for and it's just one of those pitches I wasn't executing coming into today."
The Twins hope Gibson's recent success continues as they look to retain their 1 1/2-game lead over the reigning American League champs in Cleveland.
"He has lot of pride and sometimes overthinks and gets into trouble, but when he goes out there with a good aggressive mindset, the results are going to be pretty good," Molitor said. "He's given us some good starts since his return, and if you're going to plan on hang around these things, you need depth in your rotation and he certainly can be a part of that."
Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. He covered the Twins on Thursday.