The Kansas City Royals have finished last or tied for last in the AL Central in six of the last seven seasons.
If they continue to pitch well, the Royals might stay out of the cellar this year.
While the Twins won their second straight division title in 2010, the Royals finished at the bottom of the standings once again. Kansas City (63-86), however, leads Minnesota (59-88) by three games following a 4-0 victory Tuesday night.
Bruce Chen(notes) and Louis Coleman(notes) combined to allow three hits and a walk while striking out eight. Alex Gordon(notes) went 3 for 5 with a home run and two RBIs, and Mike Moustakas(notes) hit his first career homer at Kauffman Stadium.
“It’s important (to finish ahead of the Twins),” manager Ned Yost told the team’s official website. “But what’s more important is finishing in front of everybody.”
The Royals have allowed a combined three runs over three consecutive wins and their starters have posted 16 consecutive scoreless innings.
Hochevar (10-11, 4.73 ERA) will try to add to that run while rebounding from his first loss in four starts. After winning consecutive outings, the right-hander struck out a season-high nine in Seattle on Thursday but allowed four runs over 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 defeat.
Hochevar is 3-3 with a 4.92 ERA in 10 career starts against Minnesota and 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA in three this season. He gave up one run and three hits over seven innings at Target Field on July 15 but did not get a decision in a 2-1 win.
This time, Hochevar will face a team that’s batted .208 while dropping 18 of 22 and .170 during six consecutive road defeats.
The right-hander allowed three runs, four hits and three walks in his major league debut, a 3-0 loss to Chicago on Sept. 6. He was pressed into the starting rotation after injuries to Scott Baker(notes), Brian Duensing(notes) and Francisco Liriano(notes).
“This is an audition,” Hendriks said. “Hopefully I can keep doing well and we’ll see what happens from there. There’s a lot of guys hurt. I’m not expecting to be in the lineup next year, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Minnesota is trying to avoid its first last-place finish since 2000.