Santana, who has proved to be valuable as a starter and reliever for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire this season, has flourished in the rotation of late, going 3-0 in four starts this month. The left-hander has allowed just four earned runs and 19 hits over 30 innings in August.
On Tuesday, Santana yielded two runs and eight hits over eight innings, striking out a season-high 10 and walking just one in an 8-2 victory at Cleveland.
“Every pitch was working,” Santana said. “My fastball, slider and changeup were all working. I tried to mix it up.”
The Twins will need a big outing from Santana following consecutive losses to their division rivals, including Saturday’s 4-3 setback. Aaron Guiel broke out of a slump with a three-run homer as Kansas City remained one game behind the first-place Chicago White Sox in the tight AL Central race.
The Royals had lost four straight before taking the last two from the Twins.
“We just keep coming,” Kansas City manager Tony Pena said.
Minnesota, which won Thursday’s series opener 4-3, is 2 1/2 games behind the White Sox. The defending division champions have lost five of their last six at home.
The Royals are 11-7 against the Twins despite being outscored 103-84. This is the final meeting between the teams.
STANDINGS: Royals - 2nd place, 1 GB, AL Central. Twins - 3rd place, 2 1/2 GB, AL Central.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Kevin Appier (8-9, 5.42 ERA). After being released by the Anaheim Angels earlier this month, Appier has gone 1-2 in three starts for the Royals, the team with which he spent his first 10 major league seasons. The veteran right-hander was coming off a brilliant outing in an 11-0 rout of the Yankees on Aug. 13, but was pounded for six runs and six hits in six innings of Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to New York. Appier is 8-6 with a 3.06 ERA in 20 career starts against Minnesota.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Santana (7-3, 2.92 ERA). Santana is 2-2 with a 5.97 ERA in 14 career appearances, including three starts, against Kansas City. He is 3-2 with a 3.56 ERA in 21 appearances, including seven starts, at home this year.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Royals - Carlos Beltran, .301 avg., 21 HRs, 80 RBIs, 76 runs and 30 SBs. Twins - Jacque Jones, .307 avg.; Torii Hunter, 22 HRs and 82 RBIs; Shannon Stewart, 71 runs; Cristian Guzman, 13 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Royals, 11-7.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - RHP Mike MacDougal has converted 26 of 33 save chances. … The Royals are 42-1 when allowing three runs or fewer this season. … OF Beltran is hitting .375 (6-for-16) with two homers and three RBIs in his career against LHP Santana. Twins - OF Hunter is 0-for-11 this series and has just two hits in his last 23 at-bats. … Santana has also had trouble with Kansas City OF Raul Ibanez, who is 4-for-9 (.444) with a homer and four RBIs against him. … The Twins have scored four runs or fewer in five of their last six games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals - 33-31 on the road; Twins - 34-32 at home.
INJURIES: Royals - OF Michael Tucker (leg), 15-day DL; RHP Kyle Snyder (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL. Twins - OF Lew Ford (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Rick Reed (back), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (elbow), 60-day DL.