Royals go for three-game sweep of the Twins

(AP) — The Kansas City Royals’ bats got off to a slow start last week, but now they continue to string hits together.

Kansas City will also look to string together its fourth straight win on Wednesday night as it seeks its first three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins in nearly two years.

The Royals (5-3) began the season with two losses while totaling two runs on 12 hits. They’ve won five of six since, with Tuesday’s 7-4 victory over the Twins marking their third time with 13 or more hits in the last five contests.

It’s a far cry from the 12-game losing streak they endured last April.

“We’re starting to realize we can win,” said closer Greg Holland, who earned the save Tuesday. “Last year, we were trying to figure it out mentally as far as being confident day in and day out. Now this team is really confident.”

Alex Gordon continues to lead the offense since an 0-for-3 performance on opening day, going 13 for 30 since. He had his second triple on Tuesday while going 2 for 4 with two runs.

Looking to benefit from Kansas City’s production Wednesday, as it tries for its first three-game sweep of Minnesota since April 29-May 1, 2011, will be starter Wade Davis. He struggled Friday at Philadelphia in his first start since 2011, giving up four runs on nine hits and exiting down 4-0 after four innings. But the Royals’ offense got going from there, scoring at least two runs apiece in the final five innings of a 13-4 victory.

Starting for the Twins (4-4) will be Liam Hendriks, who is 0-1 with a 7.24 ERA in three starts versus Kansas City. Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler and Salvador Perez are a combined 14 of 22 against Hendriks.

The right-hander gave up four runs on eight hits in 4 2-3 innings in a 9-5 loss at Baltimore on Friday.

“The last outing was sketchy, but I don’t think I should put any pressure on him,” general manager Terry Ryan told the team’s official website. “He’s capable of giving us good outings.”

Holland gained a measure of redemption with Tuesday’s save, though not without some dramatics. Some wondered how long Holland’s job would be safe after he gave up four runs on three hits and three walks over a combined inning of work in his last two appearances. But he struck out Joe Mauer to end the game after loading the bases with two walks and a single.

“He’s just been kind of a slow starter,” manager Ned Yost told the Royals’ official website. “Once he gets his feet underneath him, he’s lights out. We’ll adjust it out.”

Only four current Twins have at-bats against Davis, with Mauer going 4 for 5 against him. Davis allowed 10 runs over 10 1-3 innings in his first two career starts against the Twins in 2010, but posted a 2.89 ERA over 18 2-3 innings in three starts versus Minnesota in 2011.

Butler has hit safely in his last 10 games against the Twins, going 18 for 42 (.429) with 10 RBIs.

Kansas City hadn’t committed an error this season until Moustakas mishandled a groundball from Darin Mastroianni in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s game.