Count Minnesota Twins starter Kevin Correia among those impressed by what the Kansas City Royals have been doing.
Correia and Jeremy Guthrie turned in a tight duel last week and will meet again Monday night in the opener of a three-game set in Kansas City.
The Royals (56-52) have won 11 of 12 and trail Cleveland by 4 1/2 games for the AL’s second wild-card spot.
The Twins are well aware of how well Kansas City is playing after being swept in a three-game home set last week to drop to 3-10 in the season series.
The middle game of that set saw right-handed starters Correia (7-7, 4.49 ERA) and Guthrie (11-7, 4.22) each pitch six innings and allow two runs. The Royals’ pitcher earned a 4-3 victory while Correia did not get a decision.
The 10 hits by Kansas City off Correia on Wednesday matched a season high against him. Minnesota (48-60) is 0-3 in his starts against the Royals, with Correia going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA.
“I faced them early in the year,” he said. “I threw well against them, and it seems like every guy on that team has gotten better since then. Now it’s a very good offensive team. It’s a bunch of young guys continuing to get better. They have a good approach in what they’re doing.”
Correia gets a break because he won’t have to face David Lough, who is 5 for 5 with three doubles against him this year.
Lough left Sunday’s 6-2 road victory over the Mets in the fifth inning due to right quadriceps tightness. Manager Ned Yost said he won’t play in the Royals’ next two games.
Lorenzo Cain is 3 for 5 against Correia this season and Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are both 3 for 9.
Guthrie improved to 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA in four 2013 starts against the Twins, limiting Joe Mauer to two hits in 11 at-bats and Ryan Doumit to a single in nine.
Guthrie is seeking to win four straight starts for the first time since July 28-Aug. 13, 2008, with Baltimore. The Royals have won eight of his 10 home outings.
He’ll have a different batterymate than he did last week since All-Star catcher Salvador Perez has been placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Perez was struck in the mask by a foul ball Saturday.
George Kottaras started Sunday and last started one of Guthrie’s outings May 30.
Alex Gordon went 6 for 14 last week against the Twins and Moustakas was 5 for 10 with two homers and five RBIs.
Billy Butler was 3 for 13 with four RBIs, although he is still batting .417 with 12 RBIs in the season series.
Mauer went 5 for 12 last week versus Kansas City but was 1 for 11 over the weekend even though the Twins swept a three-game home set from Houston. Justin Morneau was 5 for 13 over the weekend and is hitting .314 against the Royals in 2013.
Kansas City starts this 10-game homestand after an 8-1 trip.
“I’m happy about the way things are rolling for us – just keep going,” Yost told the Royals’ official website.