Kansas City (13-11) at Minnesota (12-12)

Fair Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 59° F
  • Game info: 2:10 pm EDT Sun May 3, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Gil Meche insists a nagging back problem won’t keep him off the mound.

The right-hander expects to start Sunday as the visiting Kansas City Royals try to win the third and deciding game of their series with the Minnesota Twins.

Some lower-back tightness forced Meche (1-2, 3.77 ERA) to leave his last start Tuesday after allowing five runs and seven hits while walking five in 3 2-3 innings of an 8-1 loss to Toronto.

The injury has plagued Meche since spring training, but he intends to be ready for this start after an MRI on Wednesday showed no damage.

“I’m going to pitch Sunday - 100 percent,” Meche told the Royals’ official Web site.

He’s allowed eight earned runs over 11 innings in losing his last two starts since giving up five in his previous three outings.

“I’ve never had anything back wise, ever, so it’s kind of annoying,” Meche said. “I don’t think there is any kind of structural problem as far as tears or anything. It comes and goes. I’m not concerned.”

Meche hopes to avoid another setback while facing Minnesota (12-12). He is 7-5 with a 4.53 ERA in 16 career starts versus the Twins.

Kansas City (13-11) snapped Minnesota’s three-game winning streak with a 10-7, 11-inning victory Saturday as the teams combined for 29 hits in the back-and-forth contest.

“Thankfully we found a way to win,” said Royals manager Trey Hillman, whose team has won four of six and is trying to win its third road series of 2009.

Miguel Olivo drove in three runs, Alberto Callaspo added three hits with an RBI and Joakim Soria got the last five outs for the win after missing 10 games with a sore shoulder.

In his first season as an everyday player, Callaspo is batting .382 overall and he’s 7-for-16 with six doubles and seven runs scored in his last four contests.

Minnesota’s Joe Mauer went 4-for-6 with an RBI on Saturday, one day after going 2-for-3 with a homer in the Twins’ 7-5 series-opening victory in his first game since undergoing offseason kidney surgery.

Though Mauer is 8-for-14 with a homer and four RBIs in his last three games against the Royals, he is 2-for-14 with a home run in his career versus Meche.

The Twins hope Scott Baker (0-3, 9.82) is able to break out of his early struggles since missing the first week of the season with right shoulder stiffness.

Expected to be the ace of the Twins’ staff after going 11-4 in 2008 and signing a four-year, $15.25 million contract, Baker is coming off the best of his three starts. He allowed four runs and six hits while striking out seven in six innings of a 7-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday.

“I’m going to continue to make the adjustments,” Baker told the Twins’ official Web site. “Becoming emotional about it or getting down about it, I don’t see how that would help me make better pitches. Basically I’ll just stay positive. I know I’m capable of producing good starts and helping the team win - and (I’m) not really too concerned about the stats right now.”

Looking for his sixth straight winning decision against Kansas City, the right-hander is 5-2 with a 2.60 ERA in nine starts versus the Royals. He has a 1.87 ERA over his last six starts against them.

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Starting Pitchers

G. Meche KC vs. S. Baker LAD
6-10 Record 15-9
5.09 ERA 4.37
95 K 162
58 BB 48
1.57 WHIP 1.19


Sunday, May 3