Back-to-back victories helped Kansas City win its first series in three weeks. There’s a good chance the Royals can remain successful with the reeling Minnesota Twins in town.
The Royals try to beat the major league-worst Twins for a fifth consecutive time in the opener of a four-game set Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Kansas City (25-30) had lost three straight and eight of nine before taking the final two of a three-game home set against the Los Angeles Angels. Billy Butler’s(notes) two-run, ninth-inning homer needed to be reviewed but eventually gave the Royals a 2-0 victory Wednesday and their first winning series since taking two of three at Yankee Stadium from May 10-12.
The Royals are 5-13 since leaving the Bronx, but a visit from Minnesota (17-37) might help them string together some much-needed wins. Kansas City has outscored the Twins 35-13 in four victories since losing the season-series opener, including 21-5 in the final two of a three-game home sweep April 29-May 1.
Owners of the worst record in baseball, the Twins have lost four in a row and 10 of 12.
“Guys are playing,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins’ official website. “It’s just finding a way to win now.”
Butler, who is batting .366 in his last 10 games overall, is 4 for 8 with a homer in his last two versus Minnesota. Alex Gordon(notes) is batting .385 in his last seven home games, and 381 with seven RBIs in the season series against the Twins.
O’Sullivan went 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his first five starts of 2011, but is 0-2 with a 13.80 ERA in his last three. He allowed 10 runs - six coming off five homers - and 15 hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-1 loss at Texas on Saturday.
He also pitched through some lingering tendinitis.
“I get it once or twice every year,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s nothing that sticks with me. I pitch through it one or two times and it goes away.”
O’Sullivan has had control troubles in his last two starts against Minnesota - walking 13 batters over 12 innings - of his last two starts - but has posted a 1-0 record in those outings while limiting the Twins to two earned runs and seven hits. The right-hander walked seven, but held Minnesota to two runs and two hits in six innings April 30, not getting a decision as the Royals won 11-2.
It appears to be yet another blow for the Twins, who have been without injured star Joe Mauer(notes) (leg and shoulder) since April 12 and slugger Jason Kubel(notes) (foot) the last two games. Either Kubel or Thome could soon join Mauer on the disabled list.
“We’ll have to make a decision between Kubel and Thome,” Gardenhire said. “We can’t play two down, and we can’t just go day-to-day with everyone.”
The right-hander certainly earned another shot after limiting the Angels to one hit - an eighth-inning double - and two walks over eight innings Saturday. The Twins went on to win 1-0 in 10 innings. They haven’t won since.