Twins-Royals Preview

The Associated Press

Having lost back-to-back games for the first time in nearly a month, the Kansas City Royals will try to keep that skid brief by continuing their success against the Minnesota Twins.

In Tuesday night's series opener, the AL Central leaders will also get to face Ricky Nolasco, who was lackluster against Kansas City in his return from the disabled list less than two weeks ago.

The Royals' 8-1 loss to the New York Yankees in a makeup game Monday gave them consecutive defeats for the first time since July 27-29 and cut their division lead over Detroit to 1 1/2 games.

"We'll bounce back. We'll be OK," said outfielder Alex Gordon, who became the 10th player to appear in 1,000 games for the franchise.

Kansas City (72-58) hasn't dropped three in a row since a four-game skid July 18-21 and facing the Twins (58-72) might help the Royals avoid another loss. They've won nine of the last 13 matchups and 12 of 16 at home.

Kansas City took three of four in Minnesota from Aug. 15-18 during a 24-6 stretch that proceeded the back-to-back losses. They also won two of three at Kauffman Stadium against the Twins during that stretch.

Minnesota enters this series having dropped 22 of 36 but has won 11 of 19 on the road

In the series earlier this month, Kansas City opened with a 6-5 win against Nolasco (5-9, 5.96 ERA) on Aug. 15 in his return from a strained right elbow. The right-hander was charged with five runs in six innings and is 0-3 with a 9.20 ERA in his last three major league starts.

He gave up four runs in 6 2-3 innings in Wednesday's 5-0 loss to Cleveland.

"I thought I was a lot better today and made a lot of good pitches. A couple pitches I'd like to have back but at the end of the day I thought I threw the ball well," Nolasco said. "It's getting there. It's a step in the right direction as far as feeling good and being able to reach back here and there, to have that flexibility."

Nolasco is 2-2 with a 4.21 ERA in four starts against Kansas City. He's had a 7.71 ERA in the losses and a 1.29 ERA in the wins.

He'll pitch opposite Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.53) for the second straight matchup. Duffy allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings in the Aug. 15 win and is 3-3 with a 2.01 ERA in his last eight starts.

The left-hander was hurt by unearned runs as his three-start winning streak ended Wednesday. He was charged with five runs in seven innings in a 5-2 loss in Colorado but only one was earned.

Duffy is 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in his last four starts against Minnesota.

Kurt Suzuki is 4 for 8 against Duffy this season and is batting .424 with two homers and eight RBIs in his last 11 games versus the Royals. However, he is 2 for 25 in his last seven games overall.

Alcides Escobar is 7 for 11 with two doubles and a triple against Nolasco this season. He's batting .405 (21 for 52) with nine extra-base hits and 18 RBIs in his last 22 games versus Minnesota.

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