MINNEAPOLIS — The Kansas City Royals will try and right the ship on Monday when they open a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Labor Day.
The Royals scored four runs in the seventh inning against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday to take a brief lead before Joakim Soria allowed two runs in the next half inning. Kansas City was unable to match and lost 6-5, dropping the rubber match of a three-game series.
The Royals have now lost four of their last five games since a 13-2 stretch vaulted the defending world champions back into postseason contention. Instead of a defining moment, the Royals went 2-4 in a six-game homestand against two teams that are, like them, vying for wild-card positioning.
“We could easily have gone 6-0 on this homestand,” Royals manager Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star. “Just four really tough losses and (we) had a chance to win all of them.”
Kansas City will begin the series four games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the second wild-card spot in the American League and 9 1/2 games back of the Cleveland Indians for first in the Central.
Minnesota had a chance to begin their 10-game homestand with a series win against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday but were unable to hold a late lead in a 13-11 loss in 12 innings.
The Twins began the four-game series riding a 13-game losing streak but snapped out of it in a win on Thursday. After hitting four home runs in a win on Saturday night, Minnesota clobbered four more on Sunday, including Byron Buxton's first career grand slam.
But the Twins' bugaboo all season, their shaky pitching staff, reared its head again late, allowing Chicago to score three runs over the final two innings, sending the game to extras.
“That's a tough one,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor. “You score 11 runs and have a lot of guys with good days with the bat. And it wasn't enough.”
Ian Kennedy will get the start for Kansas City on Monday. Kennedy pitched eight shutout innings against the Twins at Kauffman Stadium on Aug. 20 and is looking for his third win over Minnesota in four tries.
The Twins will counter with Jose Berrios, who has struggled mightily in nine starts in the big leagues. The rookie right-hander has allowed a total of 18 runs over his last four starts with Minnesota and was optioned to Rochester following his last outing on Aug. 25 against Detroit, when he gave up five earned runs on six hits and five walks in five innings of work.
Berrios allowed three runs on five hits and struck out 14, however, in his last start with Rochester on Wednesday.