The Kansas City Royals cooled off one of the hottest clubs in baseball to bounce back from a slide and record their most victories at the halfway point of the season in 11 years.
Now they’ll try to get the final 81 games off to a strong start with one of the AL’s top pitchers in June taking the mound.
Danny Duffy looks to help the Royals win two in a row for the first time in nearly two weeks when they open a three-game series against the host Minnesota Twins on Monday night.
Kansas City (42-39) totaled 17 runs during a 1-6 stretch that followed a season-high 10-game winning streak, then rebounded to score 15 runs while taking two of three from the Los Angeles Angels.
Omar Infante, who had six RBIs in the series, hit a grand slam in Friday’s 8-6 win and went 3 for 5 with a walk-off single in a 5-4 victory Sunday. The Angels had won a season-high six in a row coming into Kauffman Stadium.
Though it was only Kansas City’s third victory in 10 games, the club secured its highest win total at the halfway mark since a 43-38 start in 2003.
"It’s kind of like we’ve been both off and on. We play really good and then we go in a little slump," left fielder Alex Gordon told the team’s official website. "Hopefully, in the second half, we can be more consistent and continue that from past years."
Duffy (4-7, 2.69 ERA) looks to continue his outstanding month and improve the Royals’ MLB-best 8-2 road record in June in the opener of a nine-game trip. In his five outings this month, the left-hander has posted a 1.71 ERA and .164 opponents’ batting average.
Duffy, however, suffered losses in his last two starts while receiving one total run of support. He gave up one run Tuesday despite walking four, throwing a season-high 105 pitches over six innings of a 2-0 home loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Duffy has gone 1-1 with a 2.29 ERA in five career appearances – three starts – against Minnesota. He’s allowed five hits with 12 strikeouts over 11 scoreless innings in the last three of those.
Last-place Minnesota (37-43) seeks its fifth straight home win after ending a 10-game road skid with a 3-2 victory over Texas on Sunday. Kendrys Morales hit a go-ahead RBI double in the ninth inning as the Twins completed a six-game trip.
Joe Mauer has been a bright spot, batting .375 with a .405 on-base percentage and 10 RBIs during a season-high 10-game hitting streak. He’s gone 10 for 25 with six RBIs in his last six home games against Kansas City.
Chris Parmelee also has been on a roll, batting .455 during a nine-game streak.
Yohan Pino (0-1, 6.30) wasn’t able to build on a promising debut in which he threw seven innings of two-run ball against the Chicago White Sox on June 19, surrendering five runs in three innings of a 6-2 loss to the Angels on Wednesday.
"I just have to keep working," the right-hander told MLB’s official website. "I have another start and hopefully I do better."
The 30-year-old rookie will try to cool down Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain, who had a season high-tying four hits – three doubles – and two RBIs on Sunday. The outfielder has batted .396 with five doubles and eight RBIs in his last 12 games.
The Royals, who have dropped four of six to the Twins in 2014, scored five runs while getting swept in Minnesota from April 11-13.