Baker will try to win his fourth straight start against the Royals on Thursday night when the Twins try to stretch their home win streak to seven games.
The right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA in six starts at Minnesota’s new home, including 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in the last four. His first start at Target Field was a 10-3 win over Kansas City (24-36) on April 16 in which he gave up two runs over seven innings.
That continued a trend for Baker (5-4, 4.92 ERA), who improved to 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA in his last 10 outings against the Royals. Kansas City regulars Billy Butler(notes) (.080), Alberto Callaspo(notes) (.231) and Jason Kendall(notes) (.231) have all had trouble facing Baker.
Baker allowed four runs over 7 1-3 innings in a 5-4, 11-inning win at Oakland on Friday.
Good starting pitching is a major reason Minnesota (35-24) is in position for a sweep. Kevin Slowey(notes) pitched seven scoreless innings in a 7-3 victory Tuesday before Carl Pavano(notes) gave up two runs in eight innings Wednesday in a 6-2 win.
“Their pitching staff is tough,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “They don’t knock your eyes out with blazing stuff, but they pitch. Everybody that steps on the mound is a pitcher. They don’t have anybody that’s a thrower.”
The Royals have lost eight out of 11 overall and four straight on the road.
Bruce Chen(notes) (2-0, 2.95) will make his third start of the year for Kansas City after going 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in the first two while filling in for injured right-hander Gil Meche(notes). Chen allowed two runs over five innings Friday, getting a 7-3 win over Detroit.
“I’m glad the last two times I’ve started I was able to pitch well and keep the team in the game,” Chen said. “I’m feeling very comfortable with all my pitches. I think I’m mixing them well. The cutter is really helping me and changing speeds is also helping me out. I’m very excited about the way I’m throwing right now.”
The veteran left-hander has made 10 relief appearances to go with his lone career start against the Twins in 2004. He has a 5.75 ERA against Minnesota.