Back from a sub-.500 trip, the AL Central-leading Twins open a nine-game homestand Tuesday night against the Royals.
Despite holding the biggest division lead in the majors at 3 1/2 games, Minnesota (33-24) is facing plenty of adversity. The middle infield combination of Orlando Hudson(notes) and J.J. Hardy(notes) could be placed on the disabled list prior to this series with left wrist injuries, and first baseman Justin Morneau(notes) has not started the last two games due to the flu.
“I need players,” Gardenhire told the Twins’ official website.
Right fielder Michael Cuddyer(notes)—second on the team with seven homers—is expected to return from the bereavement list as Minnesota looks to extend its season-high four-game home winning streak and improve to 19-9 at new Target Field.
Going for a sixth straight series win against Kansas City, the Twins will face Greinke (1-7, 3.60 ERA) as he tries to avoid matching his loss total from last year’s AL Cy Young Award-winning season.
The right-hander walked a season-high five in a 10-3 loss in Minnesota on April 16, and has posted a 7.04 ERA while dropping each of his last three starts.
“The last month I haven’t really been myself, I guess,” said Greinke, who gave up four runs and a season-high 10 hits over six innings of Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Angels. “Everything looks tougher, like the hitters look better and the strike zone looks smaller. It just seems tougher out there at the moment.”
It would also help if the Royals (24-34) gave Greinke more run support. Kansas City’s .279 batting average is among the best in the AL, but Greinke is receiving among the league’s lowest run support at 2.64.
“I still would like for Zack (Greinke) and (Luke) Hochevar to get some run support,” the Royals’ Brian Bannister(notes) said after picking up his fifth straight win in Sunday’s 7-2 victory over Detroit. “They don’t need to waste it all on me.”
Greinke is 0-4 with a 2.48 ERA in six road starts.
Reigning AL batting champion Joe Mauer(notes) is batting .481 with five RBIs against Kansas City this season, but is 6 for 29 lifetime against Greinke. Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP has fared worse against him, going 5 for 26.
The right-hander suffered his first career loss in five starts versus Kansas City on April 25 when he allowed four runs and hits over 5 1-3 innings of the 4-3 defeat.
Slowey yielded a run and five hits over seven innings Wednesday against the Mariners, but didn’t get a decision in the Twins’ 2-1 loss in 10 innings.
“Slowey was tough,” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He threw cutters to both sides of the plate, and he was awfully tough on our hitters.”
Minnesota is 4-2 against Kansas City this season.