The odds are stacked against the Kansas City Royals in their pursuit of a playoff berth, but that hasn’t stopped manager Ned Yost from planning ahead.
With the postseason in mind, Yost sent the struggling Wade Davis to the bullpen and will call up Danny Duffy to start Wednesday night’s contest against the Minnesota Twins as visiting Kansas City seeks a fourth straight victory.
The Royals (67-64) are seven games behind Oakland for the AL’s second wild-card spot - with three teams in between - and trail Detroit by 9 1/2 games in the Central with Cleveland also in their way. They’ve bounced back from a seven-game losing streak, though, to beat three teams in three days.
After taking the series finale with Washington 6-4 on Sunday, Kansas City beat Tampa Bay 11-1 in a makeup game Monday before Tuesday’s 6-1 victory over the Twins.
Alex Gordon hit a bases-clearing double in a five-run eighth inning before Billy Butler’s solo homer in the ninth as the Royals improved to 13-4 versus Minnesota this season.
“That’s the great part about us,” outfielder Jarrod Dyson said. “We fight through everything.”
Despite his club’s deficits in the playoff race, Yost still is making moves to prepare it for the postseason. Duffy (1-0, 1.86 ERA) will get a chance to stick with the big club after Davis disappointed as a starter.
“We haven’t given up on making the playoffs. We want Duffy on our playoff roster,” Yost told the team’s official website. “And if we do make the playoffs, we’re probably going to go with three starters and Wade is going to be in the bullpen at that time.”
Duffy, who underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2012, made his first start of the season Aug. 7 against Minnesota, allowing two runs and striking out seven while throwing 93 pitches in just 3 2-3 innings of Kansas City’s 5-2 win.
The left-hander was solid in his last outing, though, as he gave up one hit in six scoreless innings of a 2-1 win over Detroit on Aug. 16.
Duffy will face a Twins club that has scored four runs during a three-game losing streak. Minnesota (57-73) managed only four hits Tuesday, with Brian Dozier driving in the only run.
“Good ballgame until we got into the eighth, and then things kind of unraveled there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said
The Twins have lost seven of the last eight meetings with the Royals, with the only victory coming Aug. 6 after a stellar major league debut from Wednesday’s starter Andrew Albers.
Albers (2-1, 3.00) gave up four hits in 8 1-3 innings of a 7-0 victory.
“It’s hard to put into words, but it was special to go out and have that kind of performance in your debut,” Albers said after that outing. “Unfortunately, it’s probably not going to get much better from there.”
His next outing indeed was better as he tossed a two-hitter for a 3-0 win over Cleveland on Aug. 12, but he hasn’t been nearly as good since. After giving up five runs in seven innings of an 8-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 17, the left-hander allowed five runs in 5 2-3 frames before the Twins beat Detroit 7-6 on Thursday.
“It would’ve been nice to get through the sixth inning,” Albers said. “But other than that, I was pretty happy with my outing.”
Minnesota has lost five straight home meetings with Kansas City.