Twins-Royals Preview

The Associated Press

What happened to begin the Kansas City Royals' 2012 home slate set a bad tone for the entire season.

They'll hope newcomer Ervin Santana can help them get off to much better start at Kauffman Stadium in Monday's home opener against the Minnesota Twins.

Kansas City's home since 1973, Kauffman Stadium will be the site of the team's next six games after it finished off a 3-3 season-opening trip with Sunday's 9-8 victory over Philadelphia.

The Royals' bullpen nearly blew a second straight ninth-inning lead, giving up four runs in the final frame. That would have ruined a career day from Billy Butler, who hit his first grand slam - which was originally ruled a double - and matched a club record with seven RBIs.

"It was just a matter of time with Billy Butler,'' manager Ned Yost said of his slugger, who started the game batting .133 with one RBI. "You knew he'd break out and do some damage.''

More of that would help as Kansas City tries to avoid last season's woeful home start. The Royals went 0-10 in that first homestand for the longest single-season home skid in club history. It was also the majors' worst home start since the Chicago Cubs opened 0-12 in 1994.

The Royals went on to finish 72-90 for their ninth consecutive losing season.

Kansas City dropped 11 of 18 to the Twins in 2012, including six of nine as the home team.

Santana (0-1, 6.00 ERA) will face the Twins for the first time in a Royals uniform after going six innings in Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox, striking out eight with just one walk. The right-hander, though, was tagged for three homers.

"Yeah, he's going to give up homers because he throws strikes," Yost told the Royals' official website.

Santana faced the Twins once in 2012, throwing 7 1-3 innings in the Los Angeles Angels' 6-2 road victory on May 9.

Minnesota (4-2), meanwhile, begins the second leg of a six-game trip after taking two of three from Baltimore over the weekend. The Twins won just one of their first 12 series last year.

"It's early in the season but our goal is to win series,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said after Sunday's 4-3 win. "Get our fans back and excited about this baseball team in a positive way."

Minnesota goes for a third straight victory as Kevin Correia (0-0, 2.57) takes his second turn in the rotation. In his AL debut on Wednesday, the right-hander threw seven innings of two-run ball in a 3-2 victory over Detroit.

Correia's only previous start at Kauffman Stadium was June 21, 2008, while with San Francisco.

Jeff Francoeur has faced Correia more than any other current Royal, going 4 for 12 with a double.

Butler, who's batting .429 (15 for 35) during an eight-game hitting streak against Minnesota, has never faced Correia.

Joe Mauer, a .425 hitter off Royals pitching last season, has 12 hits in 26 at-bats versus Santana with a homer and four doubles.

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