The Twins try to avoid a fifth straight defeat when they host the Royals in the finale of their two-game series on Thursday afternoon.
Minnesota (11-10) failed to come through with clutch hits Wednesday as it fell 4-3 to Kansas City (7-14) in the series opener to extend its slide to four games. The skid began with a 3-1 defeat to the Royals on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium, as the Twins lost two of three in the first series of 2007 between the AL Central rivals.
“All we can do is keep playing, stay together and keep rooting for each other,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team hasn’t dropped five in a row since May 14-18 last season. “People jump on and jump off but we have to stay positive inside this locker room.”
The Twins fell below .500 (6-7) at the Metrodome for the first time this season after going a major league-best 54-27 at home in 2006. They have scored only 10 total runs while batting .212 during their current losing streak.
Torii Hunter was one of two players in Minnesota’s lineup to record two hits Wednesday, with a double and a home run to extend his hitting streak to a career-high tying 12 games. The center fielder is batting .367 with 10 doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs during the run.
He will try to keep it going against Kansas City starter Zack Greinke, whom he is 6-for-18 against during his career with two doubles and two homers.
David DeJesus and Mike Sweeney have been two big reasons for Kansas City’s success against its division rival this season. DeJesus had three hits on Wednesday, including a two-run homer, to improve to 7-for-14 versus Minnesota in 2007.
Sweeney is 8-for-14 against the Twins this season, including a two-run shot on Wednesday.
“We’ve been playing some decent ball, but we can’t finish games,” Sweeney said. “Tonight, our bullpen did a great job.”
Boof Bonser (0-1, 6.53 ERA) will try to stifle the Kansas City bats when he makes his second straight start against Greinke (1-2, 4.82) on Thursday. The right-hander pitched in the Twins’ only win over the Royals - a 7-5 victory on Saturday - but didn’t factor into the decision as he allowed three earned runs in five innings.
Bonser has given up two homers in each of his last three starts and seven this season, but wasn’t discouraged after Saturday’s performance.
“I didn’t walk anybody outside of intentional, which was a key,” he said. “The two home runs were solo shots. That’s the big thing. I don’t feel like I’ve been struggling. I’ve been throwing the ball over the plate.”
Greinke allowed four runs and nine hits over five innings in Saturday’s defeat. The 23-year-old right-hander fell to 1-3 with a 4.66 ERA in seven career games versus the Twins and remained winless in his last four appearances against them.