The Minnesota Twins need a strong final week of the regular season to claim home-field advantage for the playoffs. Kevin Slowey(notes) could use the opportunity to claim a spot in the team’s postseason rotation.
The AL Central champs begin a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals on Monday with an eye on finalizing their pitching rotation and getting healthy for the playoffs.
Minnesota (92-63) is in a three-way fight with Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees for home-field in the AL. The Twins failed to help their cause over the weekend, with Sunday’s 5-1 loss capping a three-game sweep by the Detroit Tigers.
“We’re banged up, but they deserve most of the credit,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I don’t think we are playing terrible baseball. Detroit is just playing really well right now.”
Reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer(notes) has been out since Sept. 19 while dealing with an injured left knee. It appears that he will be back in the lineup as a designated hitter Monday, just in time to face Kyle Davies(notes), whom he is hitting .417 against in his career.
Slowey (13-6, 4.18 ERA) has pitched well since returning from a triceps injury Sept. 6, going 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA. He picked up his career-high 13th win in his previous outing Sept. 18 against Oakland, surrendering two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings.
“I think part of it is just time,” he said. “Time and repetition coming back from the DL and starting to trust your stuff a little bit more.”
The right-hander is 5-1 lifetime against the Royals, but his lone loss came April 25 at Kauffman Stadium. This also might be Slowey’s last chance to make his case to Gardenhire, who is trying to piece together his postseason rotation.
“You only have X amount of starters that you can use,” Gardenhire told the Twins’ official site. “That’s a situation where you aren’t going to take guys that have been getting it done out of the bullpen and throw them out because a starter can go out there, unless you think that starter can be better out there. I think with our situation, it’s a little difficult.”
While Slowey said being a long reliever would take time getting used to, he’s willing to do anything he can to help the team.
“An out is an out is an out. More often than not, outs in the sixth, seventh and eighth are incredibly huge for the game,” he said. “That’s where the game kind of hangs in the balance. However, if they want me to do it, I’m willing to and looking forward to it.”
Kyle Davies (8-11, 5.05) will take the mound for the Royals, who have lost three in a row.
The right-hander has struggled against the Twins, posting a 4-6 record with a 4.88 ERA over 10 lifetime starts.
Davies has faced Minnesota only once in 2010, allowing five runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings as the Royals fell 6-2 on June 9. He last defeated them at home Aug. 9, 2007.
Davies is coming off his second-longest outing of the season Wednesday, when he allowed four runs and seven hits over eight innings in a 4-2 Royals loss.