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Series preview: Twins vs Royals

Let the battle for first place begin.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into this season very few people believed in either the Kansas City Royals or the Minnesota Twins. I'm about as optimistic as you can get, and I had the Twins pegged as a 77-win club. For that to happen, the team would need to go 44-62 (.415) for the rest of the season; feasible, I suppose, if things really fall apart. But I also predicted that the Royals would finish 81-81.

The Twins, at 33-23, have a one-game lead in the AL Central over the Royals, who sit at 31-23. Right now Minnesota has, by .003 points, the best record in the American League. Again. Looking at Pythagorean win-loss records, which are based entirely on run differential, Kansas City would actually have a three-game lead on Minnesota thanks to a better pitching staff.

Here's how we'll come out of these Royals series, depending on results.

Royals sweep: Twins 33-26, two games behind
Royals win two: Twins 34-25, tied for AL Central lead
Twins win two: Twins 35-24, two games up
Twins sweep: Twins 36-23, four games up

Minnesota and Kansas City are both coming off of a series where they lost two of three games. The Rangers took the series from the Royals, which is a bit more excusable than the Brewers - who are still the worst team in baseball - taking two of three from the Twins in Minneapolis.

Here's your series info.

Game 1

Monday, June 8
First pitch: 7:10pm CDT
Phil Hughes vs Jason Vargas

Hot vs Hughes: Alcides Escobar (1.009 OPS, 17 AB), Alex Rios (1.205 OPS, 27 AB)
Cold vs Hughes: Eric Hosmer (.494 OPS, 15 AB), Salvador Perez (.412 OPS, 17 AB)

Hot vs Vargas: Torii Hunter (.833 OPS, 48 AB), Joe Mauer (.942 OPS, 33 AB)
Cold vs Vargas: Kurt Suzuki (.504 OPS, 36 AB), Trevor Plouffe (.527 OPS, 30 AB)

Game 2

Tuesday, June 9
First pitch: 7:10pm CDT
Trevor May vs Chris Young

No hitter has more than 11 at-bats versus either of these pitchers.

Game 3

Wednesday, June 10
First pitch: 7:10pm CDT
Kyle Gibson vs Edinson Volquez

Hot vs Gibson: Alcides Escobar (.967 OPS, 14 AB), Alex Gordon (.845 OPS, 12 AB), Mike Moustakas (.967 OPS, 13 AB)
Cold vs Gibson: Eric Hosmer (.564 OPS, 13 AB), Salvador Perez (.286 OPS, 14 AB)
No hitter has more than ten at-bats versus Volquez.

Royals likely lineup
Alcides Escobar, SS - 269/302/360, 203 PA
Mike Moustakas, 3B - 318/370/465, 218 PA
Lorenzo Cain, CF - 283/338/408, 210 PA
Eric Hosmer, 1B - 302/376/4901, 230 PA
Kendrys Morales, DH - 293/354/468, 226 PA
Alex Gordon, LF - 251/361/427, 202 PA
Alex Rios, RF - 255/300/362, 50 PA
Salvador Perez, C - 277/286/452, 192 PA
Omar Infante, 2B - 221/230/308, 178 PA

How do you think the Twins will do this series?