Having emerged as one of Minnesota’s most consistent starters, veteran left-hander Kenny Rogers will try to help the Twins extend their lead in the AL Central as they resume a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Rogers, who signed a one-year $2 million deal with Minnesota to help fill the void left by injured southpaw Eric Milton, has lost just twice in 13 starts. He is coming off a strong outing against Colorado on Thursday, allowing three runs and nine hits over a season high-tying eight innings in a 15-3 rout of the Rockies.
“I don’t know what the offensive game plan was tonight, but I liked it,” Rogers said. “It’s a relief to get those runs.”
Minnesota has gone 4-1 in Rogers’ last five outings.
The Twins saw their lead over the second-place Royals shrink to three games after Monday’s wild 9-8 loss.
Kansas City squandered an early 8-0 lead, but pulled out the victory on Raul Ibanez’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
Mike Sweeney homered and drove in five runs for Kansas City, which has won two in a row in its last at-bat. The Royals beat the San Francisco Giants 5-4 on Sunday, when Sweeney delivered a two-out, two-run double in the ninth.
The Twins have lost three in a row for the first time since a four-game skid from May 29-June 1.
STANDINGS: Twins - 1st place, AL Central. Royals - 2nd place, 3 GB, AL Central.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Rogers (5-2, 4.67 ERA). Rogers did not fare well in his first start against Kansas City this year, yielding five runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings in the Twins’ 9-5 home loss on May 15. He is 12-11 with a 3.72 ERA in 20 career appearances, including 10 starts, against the Royals.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Jeremy Affeldt (3-3, 4.31 ERA). Affeldt, who is 0-2 in his last five starts, did not receive a decision in the Royals’ 8-7 loss at Colorado on June 8, allowing four runs and five hits over three innings before being forced out of the game with a blister. The left-hander’s last win came in a 3-2 victory at Minnesota on May 12, when he yielded two runs and seven hits over six innings. He is 1-1 with a 2.11 ERA in seven career appearances, including three starts, against the Twins.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Twins - Jacque Jones, .307 avg. and 42 runs; Torii Hunter, 9 HRs; A.J. Pierzynski, 45 RBIs; Jones and Corey Koskie, 6 SBs. Royals - Sweeney, .319 avg., 12 HRs, 48 RBIs and 38 runs; Carlos Beltran, 17 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Royals, 5-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Twins - RHP Mike Fetters tried to go through a throwing routine in the bullpen Monday but had to stop when his pitching elbow started swelling up. The Twins planned to get a second opinion from a specialist before deciding what to do. … OF Hunter and SS Cristian Guzman are a combined 4-for-22 (.182) against LHP Affeldt. … Rogers is holding the Twins to a .213 batting average with three homers and 12 RBIs all-time. Royals - 1B Sweeney is hitting .381 with three home runs and 16 RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak. … OF Carlos Beltran has six multi-hit games this month. … RHP Albie Lopez was activated from the 15-day DL and LHP Les Walrond was sent to Triple-A Omaha on Monday, leaving the Royals without a left-handed reliever.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Twins - 20-12 on the road; Royals - 17-14 at home.
INJURIES: Twins - INF Chris Gomez (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Rick Reed (back), 15-day DL; RHP Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Milton (knee), 60-day DL. Royals - INF Mendy Lopez (calf), 15-day DL; OF Dee Brown (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Runelvys Hernandez (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL.