Minnesota right-hander Jake Odorizzi will try to take over the major league lead in wins on Thursday night when the American League Central-leading Twins open a four-game series at Kansas City.
Odorizzi (10-2, 2.24 ERA) enters the game tied with Lucas Giolito of the White Sox for most wins in the big leagues. He'll be opposed by right-hander Glenn Sparkman (1-3, 4.01) in a sequel to a matchup that took place in Minneapolis on Saturday, when the Twins won 5-4.
Odorizzi allowed seven hits, including home runs by Jorge Soler and Whit Merrifield, and all four Royals runs in six innings. He walked two and struck out seven in winning his 10th straight decision, the longest winning streak by a Twins starter since Johan Santana set the club record of 17 consecutive wins between July 17, 2004, and April 26, 2005.
Still, by Odorizzi's standards this season, it was one of his poorer starts of the season. In eight previous starts entering that contest, Odorizzi had allowed a total of four runs and had six games in which he didn't allow a run.
"When you're throwing the ball as well as he's thrown the ball for so many starts, it feels like anything but six or seven innings with no runs, there's something to talk about," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said afterward. "For me, there's nothing to talk about. I thought he threw the ball well and battled through making those pitches that maybe he didn't want to make and figuring it out and getting us to the middle of the game."
Minnesota has won 11 consecutive games started by Odorizzi. He hasn't lost a decision since April 10, when he allowed three runs on one hit and four walks in 4 2/3 innings of a 9-6 loss to the New York Mets.
Odorizzi, who also leads the AL in ERA, is just 3-4 with a 4.56 ERA in 10 career games (nine starts) against Kansas City. He is just 1-2 with a 5.91 ERA in four starts at Kauffman Stadium.
Sparkman is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five career games (one start) against Minnesota. He gave up all five runs (four earned) in Saturday's loss at Target Field, allowing five hits and two walks in five-plus innings while striking out three.
The Twins come into the game having lost three of their last four games, including a 9-4 defeat at home to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night. The lone win during that span was 4-3 in 17 innings over the defending World Series champions on Tuesday in a game that lasted 5 hours, 45 minutes.
Kansas City is 1-4 against Minnesota this season and was swept in a two-game series at Kauffman Stadium on April 2-3. However, three of the four losses were by one run.
The Royals had a season-high-tying, three-game winning streak snapped Wednesday afternoon at Seattle. The Mariners won 8-2 after Kansas City starter Brad Keller allowed a season-high seven runs on nine hits in four innings, including four runs in the first inning.
"It just felt like I really didn't have anything behind the fastball today," Keller said. "It's not a good feeling when you're going into a start like that."
Minnesota enters the contest with the best road record in baseball, 24-12, while the Royals are just 14-23 at home.
--Field Level Media