Twins-Royals Preview

The Associated Press

The Minnesota Twins have been on a nice roll since a lengthy skid last month.

P.J. Walters has been a nice addition to the club's rotation during that stretch.

Walters makes his first start at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night against a Kansas City Royals team trying to end the longest single-season home losing streak in team history.

Since winning his season debut May 25 by beating Detroit 3-2 to help the Twins (26-29) end a 10-game skid, Minnesota has reeled off seven more wins in nine tries. The club ended a four-game skid at Kansas City, and handed the Royals (23-32) a franchise-worst 11th straight home defeat with Tuesday's 3-0 series-opening victory.

Ryan Doumit hit a solo homer and added a run-scoring single.

"I'm just getting back to basics,'' said Doumit, batting .324 with four homers and 13 RBIs in the last eight games. "After a slow start, I watched some video and just tried to get back and simplify things.''

While Doumit and the Twins' offense are starting to heat up - the team is hitting .308 with 18 runs during a 3-0 start to June - Minnesota's starters have a 3.94 ERA over the last 10 games. It's a vast improvement from that group's 8.16 ERA during the 10-game skid.

Part of that improvement is due to Walters (2-0, 4.50 ERA) taking over for the demoted Vance Worley. Walters, though, has been knocked around at times in his two starts. He was tagged for 10 hits in six innings of Thursday's 8-6 victory over Milwaukee, with all four runs charged against him coming after the fifth.

"The way I felt tonight and through the first five innings, I should've gone deeper in the game, but our bullpen did their job," Walters told the Twins' official website. "It just stinks they had to throw tonight. But it's a win, so we'll go from there."

The right-hander's only start against the Royals ended in a 10-5 loss Sept. 12, when he allowed six runs in four innings.

Walters now faces a light-hitting Royals lineup that's plated three runs or fewer 13 times while losing 15 of 18. It's uncertain what it will take for Kansas City to snap out of its funk, as it's hitting .198 with 11 total runs in five games since Hall of Famer George Brett was named interim hitting coach.

"You can come up with all the reasons and all the excuses why, but we're just not producing offense for our pitchers right now," manager Ned Yost said.

That's unfortunate for the Royals, because their rotation has a combined 3.34 ERA in the last six games.

On Wednesday, Jeremy Guthrie (5-3, 3.84) will try to become the first Royals' starter in 19 games to post a win. The veteran right-hander threw six innings of two-run ball in Thursday's 4-2 win at St. Louis after posting a 7.91 ERA while losing his previous three starts.

Joe Mauer (6 for 13) and Justin Morneau (5 for 17) both have two homers off Guthrie, while Josh Willingham and Doumit each have gone deep off him once.

Minnesota is going for its first four-game road winning streak since May 16-19, 2012.

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