Preview: Royals hope to build on big night at plate, win series
Big hits in Friday night's game bolster Royals' hopes for climbing back to .500
By ASSOCIATED PRESSFS Kansas City
The first order of business for the Kansas City Royals is getting back to .500. A few more games for Billy Butler against the Minnesota Twins should help in that pursuit.
Butler looks to continue his hot hitting against Minnesota pitching Saturday when the Twins send Kyle Gibson to the mound for his major league debut.
This hasn't been the best offensive season for Butler, and he seems unlikely to come close to the career-high 29 home runs he hit in 2012. Still, none of that seems to matter when he faces the Twins (35-41).
Butler got the Royals started quickly with a three-run homer - his sixth of the season and first in 136 at-bats - in the opening inning Friday and added a pair of singles in a 9-3 win. He is batting .468 with three home runs and 16 RBIs during a 16-game hitting streak against Minnesota.
Butler has hit .519 (14 for 27) versus the Twins this year, and .252 against the rest of baseball.
Eric Hosmer had his second career multihomer effort and Mike Moustakas also went deep for the first time since May 10, giving the Royals a season-best four home runs. They entered the game last in the majors with 43.
"This is what our offense is capable of doing, and we feel confident that we can put up a lot of runs and then put up days like this," Hosmer said.
The win was only the third in nine games overall for Kansas City, but its ninth in 12 meetings with Minnesota. The Royals (37-40) briefly reached .500 last week but haven't been above that mark since mid-May.
With starter P.J. Walters lifted after three innings Friday, the Twins hope Gibson can provide some innings in his first major league appearance.
The 25-year-old right-hander was recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday after going 7-5 with a 3.01 ERA in 15 starts. Gibson, the second-ranked pitcher and No. 4 overall prospect in Minnesota's system, is 5-0 with a 2.39 ERA in his last seven starts.
"I think it's always a constant battle," Gibson told the team's official website of finding consistency. "Maybe in the last 10 games I can say that I've found that, but I think being consistent and constant consistency on the major league level is going to be a different thing."
He allowed one unearned run over seven innings and struck out six in a 5-2 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on June 20 in his most recent outing.
Joe Mauer went 0 for 4 on Friday and is hitless in back-to-back games for only the second time since an 0-for-19 skid in late April. He's 7 for 36 (.194) this year versus the Royals, but 5 for 10 against scheduled starter Wade Davis.
After going 1-3 with a 7.76 ERA in five May starts, Davis (4-5, 4.96 ERA) is 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA in four outings this month. The right-hander limited the White Sox to two runs over seven innings last Saturday before leaving without a decision in a 3-2 loss.
Davis has not allowed an earned run in two starts this season against the Twins, but hasn't been very economical. He beat them April 10 but needed 96 pitches to complete five innings in a 3-0 win, and Davis didn't get a decision as he threw 107 over five frames in Kansas City's 7-3 victory June 6.
His 3-0 record versus Minnesota - in eight career games - is his best against any opponent.