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Series preview: Twins at Royals

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Can the Minnesota do at Kauffman what Kansas City did in their last trip to Target Field?

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The last time the Twins and Royals were set to face off, it was a battle for first place in the division. Kansas City swept Minnesota in three games, in Minneapolis, going from one game behind the division lead to two games in front. Since the start of that series the Twins are 8-14; the Royals are 13-8. Their division lead over the second-place Twins is now four and a half games.

Our division leaders are fresh off of a sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros. Minnesota has won just a single series since the calendar turned to June. Here's what you need to know for this weekend's four-game set.

  • Eric Hosmer is questionable to return for tonight's game due to a sprained ring finger on his left hand. The poor Royals have had to watch Kendrys Morales "play" first the last four games.
  • Morales was riding an 11-game hitting streak before going 0-for-3 on Monday. He's hit safely again in his last two games. He's batting .327/.397/.538 since the start of the extended hitting streak.
  • Jason Vargas has been placed on the disabled list.
  • Salvador Perez has lost 20 points of OPS these last two weeks.
  • Over his last 15 games, Lorenzo Cain is hitting .370/.435/.685.
  • Alex Rios is generally pretty terrible.
  • Mike Moustakas is 2-for-31 over the last week.
  • Twins starters had a 4.50 ERA in April, a 3.66 ERA in May, a 3.90 ERA in June, and so far have a 1.42 ERA in July.
  • Did you guys know that the Twins have called up some guy called Miguel Sano? (There. I said it.)

Probable Pitchers


Game 1: Thursday, July 2
First Pitch: 7:10pm
Kyle Gibson (RHP, 4.30 FIP, 1.26 WHIP, 0.6 fWAR) vs Chris Young (RHP, 3.96 FIP, 0.99 WHIP, 0.9 fWAR)

Game 2: Friday, July 3
First Pitch: 7:10pm
Tommy Milone (LHP, 4.72 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 0.2 fWAR)  vs Jeremy Guthrie (RHP, 4.92 FIP, 1.52 WHIP, 0.0 fWAR)

Game 3: Saturday, July 4
First Pitch: 6:15pm
Mike Pelfrey (RHP, 3.81 FIP, 1.44 WHIP, 0.7 fWAR) vs Joe Blanton (RHP, 3.36 FIP, 1.15 WHIP 0.3 fWAR)

Game 4: Sunday, July 5
First Pitch: 1:10pm
Ervin Santana (RHP, 2015 debut) vs Danny Duffy (LHP, 4.17 WHIP, 1.63 WHIP, 0.5 fWAR)

Probable Lineup

Alcides Escobar, SS (86 OPS+)
Moustakas, 3B (123)
Cain, CF (123)
Hosmer, 1B (120)
Morales, DH (124)
Gordon, LF (126)
Perez, C (100)
Rios, RF (44)
Infante, 2B (50)

Lineup assuming Hosmer returns for this series, and it sounds like he should.

Predictions

The Royals have been surprisingly good this year, but so have the Twins. I'm willing to bet that Ervin Santana wins his season debut on Sunday, and the only game I worry about is tonight's contest versus a surprisingly effective Young. If this was in Minneapolis I might be a bit more daring, but because it's on the road I'm calling for a series split. Let's hope I'm wrong and the Twins can turn things around with their first full series of July.