Twins fall to Nationals, division lead down to 3.5 games

Minnesota opens a three-game series in Cleveland on Friday.
Kyle Gibson

The Twins dropped their series with the Washington Nationals on Thursday, losing 12-6 in the rubber game of the three-game set. It sets up a pivotal series with the Indians Friday-Sunday in Cleveland. 

Cleveland was off Thursday, but now Minnesota's lead is down to 3.5 games in the Central Division. Meaning if the Indians sweep this weekend, the Twins will have just a half-game lead with 13 games to play.

In his first start since Aug. 30, after being activated from the injured list, Kyle Gibson struggled in the early innings, giving up a first inning home run to Anthony Rendon as well as two runs in the third inning. 

Luckily, the Twins offense was able to stay within striking distance early with Eddie Rosario delivering an RBI single and Nelson Cruz's 36th home run of the season that traveled 454 feet and cleared the CATCH seating in straightaway center field. 

Unfortunately, Gibson continued to struggle in the middle innings, serving up a solo home run to Adam Eaton, as well as an RBI triple to Asdrubal Cabrera. 

Rocco Baldelli would then remove his starter from the game for Cody Stashek, who's wild pitch allowed another run to score, which was charged to Gibson. Gibson lasted just 4.2 innings and allowed eight hits, six runs (five earned), two home runs, four walks and had five strikeouts.

The bullpen didn't have much better luck, as Kohl Stewart allowed four earned runs on four hits, putting the game out of reach.

Despite the pitching struggles Minnesota had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth. The inning led off with Jonathan Schoop belting his 22nd dinger of the season, giving the club 279 home runs this year – one behind the Yankees for the most in the MLB and the most in any single season in league history. 

With Ronald Torreyes and Ryan LaMarre reaching on a walk and single, respectively, Lamonte Wade Jr. drove in Torreyes and the Twins cut the deficit to four runs.

After Jason Castro drew a walk, the bases were loaded and in stepped Cruz who represented the tying run. But the designated hitter struck out swinging against ex-Twins closer Fernando Rodney, and Rodney did the same to Jorge Polanco to end the threat. 

And for good measure, the Nationals tallied two more runs in the top of the ninth.

With the loss, the Twins fall to 89-57 and will open the three-game series with the Indians on Friday. Jake Odorizzi will start on the mound for Minnesota. 

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