Royals-Twins Preview


For almost two weeks the Kansas City Royals could not win. Lately, they can't lose.

Victories continue to be hard to come by for the Minnesota Twins.

The visiting Royals look for a fourth consecutive victory Sunday while trying to extend the Twins' losing streak to seven games.

Kansas City (6-14) snapped a 12-game skid with an 8-2 win at Cleveland on Wednesday and has not looked back. The Royals followed by beating the Indians 4-2 on Thursday and hung on for a 7-6 victory at Minnesota on Friday.

Saturday's game was rained out and will be made up as part of a doubleheader June 30, and Kansas City manager Ned Yost didn't seem disappointed.

"It actually helps the status of our bullpen," Yost said. "We're a little worn down right now."

Mike Moustakas delivered the go-ahead single in the eighth inning Friday and Alcides Escobar drove in a run three batters later for the Royals, who also got two-run homers from Alex Gordon and Billy Butler.

"They're not always going to be pretty, they're not always going to be easy," said Yost, whose team is 6-4 on the road and 0-10 at home. "We grinded it out. That's the kind of club we've got."

Butler has paced the Royals' offense during the three-game winning streak, going 6 for 14 with three home runs and six RBIs. He's 7 for 18 with five RBIs in his last four versus Minnesota.

As the Royals continue their attempt to turn things around, they hope to give scheduled starter Bruce Chen (0-2, 2.52 ERA) some much-needed support as he tries a fifth time to win his first of the year.

The left-hander has allowed seven earned runs in 25 innings, but the Royals have scored just four times with him in the game. He gave up three runs on two homers in seven innings of a 4-1 loss to Toronto on Monday.

Chen, who turns 35 in June, is 2-3 with a 4.40 ERA in seven starts versus Minnesota, but pitched 16 scoreless innings while going 1-0 in two September outings against the Twins.

Minnesota (5-15) has plated 12 runs in the last two games but been outscored 41-22 during its season-high six-game skid. Trevor Plouffe hit a solo shot and Alexi Casilla drove in two runs Friday for the Twins, who have 26 hits over their last two games.

Minnesota has dropped seven straight at home to fall to 2-8 at Target Field.

"We need to win some baseball games," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's the atmosphere you worry about, guys keep taking a beating in there, they can get up so many times, but we need to win a game and shake hands. We need to have that feeling."

Joe Mauer had two more hits Friday to raise his average to .329. However, he's 3 for 16 (.188) against Chen.

Scheduled Twins starter Jason Marquis (1-0, 7.15) looks for a better performance in his third start after he allowed five runs and 11 hits - including a pair of two-run homers - in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-5 loss to Boston on Monday.

"I like to go as deep into the game as possible," Marquis told the Twins' official website. "That's my job, (but) I wasn't able to get it done the way I wanted to (against the Red Sox)."

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA against the Royals, but has not faced them since 2006 while with St. Louis.