Seeking a sixth straight win, the Twins look to pin another loss on Greinke and complete a three-game sweep Wednesday night at Target Field.
While a playoff berth is far from guaranteed, Minnesota (82-57) is on track for a second straight division title with a 4 1/2-game lead on the White Sox. The AL Central leaders appear to be peaking, having won 10 of 12 and 33 of 45 despite the absence of All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau(notes) (concussion).
Minnesota’s five-game streak has been keyed by an offense averaging 7.4 runs during that stretch.
The lineup had another impressive display Tuesday night, collecting 13 hits in a 10-3 rout of the Royals. Delmon Young(notes) drove in four runs and Thome homered for the fourth time in three games, leading the Twins to their 11th win in 14 games this season against Kansas City (57-81).
Minnesota has won 19 of the last 23 meetings.
“They’re not leading this division for nothing,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “They’re a good team that swings the bat. They catch the ball. They throw strikes.”
Thome is 5 for 6 with four homers, seven RBIs, eight runs and five walks in his last three games. His home run Tuesday was the 586th of his career, tying Frank Robinson for eighth all-time.
“It’s fun to watch, and it’s a tough act to follow,” Young said.
Thome is 7 for 31 with two homers lifetime against Greinke (8-11, 3.87 ERA), who likely isn’t looking forward to his fourth matchup this season with the Twins.
The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner is 0-3 with a 10.29 ERA versus Minnesota this year, having given up 23 hits in 14 innings. He was tagged for eight runs over four innings in the most recent meeting, a 19-1 loss July 26.
Greinke held Detroit without a hit until one out in the fifth inning Friday but departed with one out in the seventh after allowing four runs. The Royals went on to lose 9-5 in 11 innings.
The right-hander is 3-7 with a 4.97 ERA in 14 career starts against Minnesota.
Kansas City, which has dropped a season-high 24 games below .500, will be without designated hitter Billy Butler(notes) in the series finale. Butler - second on the team with 64 RBIs - left Tuesday’s game with a bruised right hand and will be re-evaluated Wednesday.
Brian Duensing(notes) (7-2, 2.09) moves back into a starting role for the Twins after he was forced into a recent relief appearance. The left-hander has been outstanding since moving into the rotation in late July, going 4-1 with a 2.33 ERA in eight starts.
He was originally scheduled to start Sunday against Texas, but pitched two innings in relief versus Detroit on Thursday in Minnesota’s 10-9, 13-inning loss.
Duensing is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts - both on the road - against the Royals.