Baker and the Twins (71-73) will continue their three-game series against the Royals (62-81) at Kauffman Stadium.
On Aug. 31 in the second half of a day-night doubleheader in Minneapolis, Baker (8-7, 4.14 ERA) carried a perfect game into the ninth inning, but walked the leadoff hitter before giving up a one-out single to Mike Sweeney to lose the no-hitter in the Twins’ 5-0 victory.
Baker didn’t make the team out of spring training and didn’t get his first start until May 19.
“I think since he came back and got his opportunity to pitch, he’s realized that it’s time,” Minnesota catcher Mike Redmond said. “Time to go out there and show what type of pitcher you are and what you’re made of.
He followed up his near perfect game, though, with a loss to AL Central-leading Cleveland on Tuesday, when he gave up three runs and 11 hits in five innings of a 6-2 defeat. Despite allowing leadoff hits in every inning, Baker held Indians off the scoreboard over his final four innings.
“He was Houdini a little bit,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins’ official Web site. “It seemed the leadoff hitter was on every inning, but he found a way to get through it.”
Baker also beat the Royals on July 30, when he held Kansas City to two hits over eight innings, and has an 0.53 ERA against them in 2007. He’s 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two career starts at Kauffman.
Kyle Davies (2-4, 5.97), who starts opposite Baker for Kansas City, will try to beat the Twins for the third time since being acquired in a July trade with Atlanta. In two starts spanning 11 2-3 innings against Minnesota after coming to the AL, the right-hander has conceded just three runs and seven hits for a 1.54 ERA. While with the Braves, Davies lost to the Twins on June 12 after being tagged for five runs and six hits in 3 2-3 innings en route to a 7-3 loss.
Following the trade, Davies is 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA pitching in Kansas City, but has received only one run of support.
Though he pitched well his last time out, Davies still took the loss. Against Texas on Wednesday, he allowed two runs—one earned—and three hits over five innings, but also walked four in the Royals’ 3-2 road loss.
Davies allowed the leadoff man to get on base in each of his first three innings.
“The object is to get the first batter you face and I didn’t do that,” he said. “But I was able to locate my fastball better and that’s some progress.”
Minnesota took the opener of this series, 4-2 on Monday night for its second straight win following a season-high six-game losing streak. Jason Kubel and Justin Morneau each drove in two runs, and Boof Bonser pitched five solid innings for only his second win since mid-June.
Kubel, a left fielder, is 5-for-11 with a homer and seven RBIs in his last three games. Morneau has just one homer since July 24, and still needs five more to tie the career-high 34 he hit in 2006 when he won the AL MVP.
Sweeney had a two-run double for the Royals, who are assured of their 12th non-winning season in 13 years.