The Minnesota Twins’ high-scoring offense helped them move back into first place in the AL Central for the second time in a week.
To keep their lead, though, they’ll have to cool off Gil Meche, who takes the mound for Kansas City on Sunday, trying to help the Royals avoid a three-game sweep.
The Twins (64-51) beat the Royals (53-64) 7-3 on Saturday for their third straight win overall and ninth in 11 games this season against Kansas City. Delmon Young homered and rookie Denard Span had a two-run single during a five-run sixth inning.
“When it’s so close to your head you don’t know what’s going on,” Young said. “If (it was intentional), I was hoping for the ribs or lower. We scored five runs after that. Whatever it did was a good thing for us.”
The win, combined with Chicago’s loss to Boston, moved the Twins a half-game ahead of the White Sox into first place in the AL Central. It’s the second time this week they’ve been in first place. Last Sunday, Minnesota took the lead in the division, but lost its next two games to fall back into second.
The Twins have averaged 6.2 runs in their last six games, led by Span, who is hitting 10-for-26 (.385) with seven RBIs, and Kubel, who is batting .368 (7-for-19) with two homers and six runs scored in his last five games.
Since the All-Star break, Minnesota has the fifth-highest scoring offense in the AL at 5.4 runs per game.
Continuing that prolific offense won’t be easy Sunday against Meche (10-9, 4.17), who has won his last four starts and seven of his last eight decisions. He has a 2.80 ERA during that stretch.
Meche pitched six innings Monday against Boston, allowing two runs and four hits, while striking out nine in a 4-3 win. The Royals have won each of Meche’s last six starts and are 9-1 in his last 10 outings.
“When your arm feels good, good things happen,” he said. “I’ve just been relying on my fastball and my curveball pretty much, and using my other two pitches every once in a while.”
The right-hander is 6-5 with a 4.66 ERA in 14 career starts against the Twins. He’s lost both outings against them this season, allowing 11 runs and 11 hits in 11 2-3 innings.
Meche will try to help the Royals end a four-game losing streak. They’ve averaged just 2.0 runs while batting .229 during the skid after going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position Saturday.
Minnesota’s Scott Baker (7-3, 3.86) looks to bounce back after allowing a season-high six runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings Tuesday against Seattle. Baker did not factor in the 8-7 loss.
He is 4-2 with a 2.98 ERA in seven career starts against the Royals. He pitched 6 2-3 innings against them on April 4, allowing three runs and seven hits in a 4-3 win.
Kansas City announced Saturday that second baseman Mark Grudzielanek may be out for the season after an MRI revealed a torn deltoid ligament in his right ankle. He was batting .299 with 56 RBIs.