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KC@MIN: Gibson fans five in MLB debut vs. Royals

The Twins' highly touted pitching prospect, Kyle Gibson, has already shown the Yankees his potential by allowing only one run in 13 innings over two starts against their Triple-A affiliate. He'll have a chance to prove it was no fluke in his second Major League start when he faces New York on Thursday.

Gibson made his big league debut on Saturday, against the Royals, allowing two earned runs on eight hits in six innings while striking out five.

"I thought he handled it well," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "A lot of attention. Certainly, expectations were high. He handled the pace well. He threw strikes, kept the game moving and, most important, we won that baseball game. We're not looking for moral victories. We want to win the game."

Meanwhile, David Phelps looks to get back on track and help New York continue its winning streak after Wednesday's 3-2 victory. Phelps allowed nine earned runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Orioles in his most recent start. Otherwise he was terrific in June, going 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA in his four other outings.

"Regardless of what point in the game you come out, if you give up nine runs, it's going to be agonizing," Phelps said of his performance vs. Baltimore. "Knowing you went out and didn't really give the team a chance to win is probably the worst part of it."

The Twins' 36-45 record is their best halfway through a season since going 35-46 in the past two years.

"We're trying to figure it out as we go along," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I know we've made some mistakes lately that have cost us some games, and we have to get better at that. We were doing really well, and we went through a little bit of a team slump. We have to get better in a lot of areas right now to compete."

Yankees: Nova back in the rotation
Ivan Nova will get another shot to work his way back into the rotation on Friday, when he goes up against the Orioles after Hiroki Kuroda was scratched with a nagging hip injury.

"Of course, you don't want [anyone] to get hurt, but what can I do?" Nova said. "I've just got to take advantage of the opportunity that God gave me right now. It's not the way that you want to be pitching, but there's nothing I can do."

Nova has struggled as a starter, with a 5.79 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in five starts. He struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings while allowing three runs on seven hits in a spot start against the Rays on June 23.

"It's not good. I don't feel good the way I am right now," he said. "I don't know when I'm pitching [until] somebody gets hurt. It's not the spot I want to be in, but it's something that I can't control."

• Alex Rodriguez made his second rehab appearance at Class A Charleston on Wednesday, with two groundouts to the right side of the infield.

"I talked to him about the difference of being out there in that type of situation compared to simulated, and he said he felt good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Rodriguez is expected to have a day off on Thursday before continuing his rehab assignment at Class A Advanced Tampa. He was able to field one ball at third base on Wednesday, turning a 5-4-3 double play.

• Jayson Nix was placed on the 15-day disabled list after an MRI on Wednesday revealed a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring.

"Nixy's tough, and he plays through a lot of stuff," Girardi said. "He didn't necessarily want to go on the DL. We just felt that no one we've ever had that's had a Grade 2 has ever not gone on the DL. It's awful risky, and you risk making it [linger for] a long time."

Twins: Top Draft pick set to make pro debut
The Twins' first-round pick in this year's First-Year Player Draft, right-hander Kohl Stewart, will make his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League on Thursday.

Stewart, the No. 4 overall selection, is expected to throw between 40 and 50 pitches against Rays Minor Leaguers in Fort Myers, Fla.

"I'm not too concerned about anything other than getting his feet wet," Ryan said. "This is just his first outing. [Director of player personnel] Mike Radcliff will be down there to see him, which is good, so we can get an evaluation. The only thing I hope is that he throws the ball over the plate."

• Wilkin Ramirez suffered a setback in his recovery from a concussion.

Ramirez played in three rehab games with Class A Advanced Fort Myers before retriggering concussion-like symptoms diving for a ball on June 22. He has returned to the Twin Cities for further testing.

"He's going through tests again," Ryan said. "He jarred his head when he dove for a ball and got dizzy. We wanted to wait a few extra days, because you don't want a guy to go on an airplane after that."

Ramirez sustained the concussion when he collided with Josh Willingham in the outfield on May 25.

Worth noting
• Phelps is 1-2 with a 1.62 ERA in three starts against American League Central opponents.

• The Yankees have won 13 of their last 14 games against an AL Central team.

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