Although the pitching staff continues to shine during a four-game winning streak, the Kansas City Royals may have to rely on their resurgent offense if Bruce Chen can't reverse his fortunes against the Minnesota Twins.
After having his start delayed, the left-hander looks to avoid his second loss in as many outings against the AL Central rival Twins on Saturday.
Kansas City (8-7) has posted a 1.50 ERA while holding opponents to a .194 batting average over the last six games. Jason Vargas threw the latest gem in Friday's series opener, allowing seven hits over seven innings in a 5-0 home win that extended the Royals' season-best win streak.
That's a trend they'd like to continue as Chen (0-1, 6.30 ERA) makes his first appearance since having his start pushed back after experiencing stiffness in his back. While he insisted he could have pitched Thursday, the Royals opted to play it safe with the 36-year-old left-hander.
"I've had it for over a week now," Chen told the team's official website. "The preparation in between (starts) wasn't what I wanted it to be."
Chen allowed one run over 6 1-3 innings in a 4-3 home win over the Chicago White Sox on April 5. However, he lasted 3 2-3 innings April 11 while giving up six runs and seven hits in a 10-1 road loss in the opener of Minnesota's three-game home sweep.
He's hoping to take advantage of an opportunity to improve on his 2-3 record and 6.93 ERA over his last five starts against the Twins (8-8).
"I'm glad I can go out there and perform against a team in our division, especially one that swept us before," Chen said.
Trevor Plouffe has gone 8 for 24 with three homers when facing Chen, while Brian Dozier (5 for 12) and Jason Kubel (7 for 16) also have had success off him.
Josmil Pinto, who is 5 for 13 with two homers in the season series, had two hits Friday as the Twins lost for the second time in seven games.
Kevin Correia (0-1, 5.30) looks to build on his performance against the Royals on Sunday, when he allowed three runs - all in the eighth inning - in a 4-3 win.
The right-hander could have a difficult time picking up his first victory since he's 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA in three starts at Kauffman Stadium.
Mike Moustakas, who hit a two-run homer Friday, has gone 6 for 13 with three doubles when facing Correia. Alex Gordon (3 for 18), Eric Hosmer (4 for 17) and Salvador Perez (3 for 14) haven't fared as well.
Alcides Escobar had three hits in the opener, leaving him with nine in 14 at-bats in his last four home games against the Twins.
The Royals have totaled 20 runs during their winning streak after scoring five times in the sweep at Minnesota.
Already thin in the outfield with Lorenzo Cain on the disabled list, Kansas City put Jarrod Dyson on the bereavement list Friday. Jimmy Paredes, who was picked up off waivers in February, was recalled after hitting .319 at Triple-A Omaha.
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