Dating to last season, the Royals have lost a club-record 13 straight on the road.
It won’t get any easier for Kansas City to break through on the road after placing slugger Mike Sweeney on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday. Sweeney has a bulging disk in his upper back, a problem that has landed him on the DL each of the last three seasons.
“We’ve been dealing with injuries all year,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said. “We need to make do the best we can and hope the replacements can get it done. We haven’t done that so far this year.”
Sweeney was hitting .176 with two homers and six RBIs in 20 games before the injury for the Royals, who have lost six straight overall.
Minnesota (11-16) added to Kansas City’s woes with a 6-1 victory in the series opener Wednesday. Brad Radke ended a personal three-game losing streak with seven strong innings and struggling Torii Hunter homered as the Twins won their second straight.
Hunter connected for the first time since April 22 and has driven in runs in consecutive games for the first time since doing it in three straight contests from April 11-13.
The Twins improved to 3-1 against the Royals this season, posting a 2.06 ERA in those games.
Jeremy Affeldt (1-2, 6.27 ERA) will make his fifth start of the season Thursday for Kansas City after his last one was wiped out due to rain. Affeldt struck out five over three innings as the Royals built a 6-1 lead against Oakland on Saturday before the game was called.
“You can’t assume the outcome, obviously,” Affeldt said. “But I think the way we were playing, defensively and offensively, you’ve got to think we’d have gotten a break there—and then this happened.”
Affeldt is one of only two starters to earn a victory for the Royals this season along with Runelvys Hernandez.
The left-hander is 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA in five starts against the Twins. He’s starting against them for the first time since July 23, 2003, after pitching out of the bullpen the last two years.
Including 14 appearances in relief, Affeldt has a 1.28 ERA against Minnesota.
He’s dominated Hunter, who is 2-for-18 against Affeldt.
On a staff full of struggling starters, Carlos Silva (1-4, 10.31) has been the worst for Minnesota this season. Silva has given up 10 homers—one shy of Radke for the most in the AL.
The right-hander has been particularly bad over his last three outings, going 0-3 with a 12.71 ERA. Opponents are hitting .362 against Silva this year.
“He’s pumped up and ready to throw the ball again,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You’ve got to throw good (in the bullpen), and then throw good (on the field). I’m confident he’ll do that.”
Silva is 2-0 with a 3.96 ERA in six starts against the Royals, failing to pitch into the sixth inning only once in that span.