Twins-Royals Preview

Last weekend, the Minnesota Twins swept the Kansas City Royals at home.

The Royals are in position to return the favor this weekend in Kansas City, where they send Yordano Ventura to the mound to try to help them to a sixth straight win Sunday.

Minnesota (8-9) outscored Kansas City 21-5 in sweeping three games last weekend at Target Field.

The Royals are enjoying their longest win streak of the season since thanks to a 1.91 ERA in that span. That stretch began when Ventura (1-0, 0.69 ERA) gave up two runs in seven innings Tuesday to earn his first big-league win, 4-2 at Houston.

"I feel really good," Ventura said in Spanish through a translator. "I feel that the team supported me and played really good defense and scored a lot of runs for me."

The right-hander will get his first look at the Twins, who have walked 88 times to lead the majors. Ventura has walked nine in 28 1-3 career innings.

Minnesota drew 16 walks last weekend against Kansas City but has been limited to six in this series. The Twins matched a season high by striking out 12 times in Saturday’s 5-4 defeat.

The Royals’ bullpen worked four hitless innings Saturday to stretch their scoreless inning streak to 14. Kansas City relievers haven’t allowed an earned run in their last 17 1-3 innings.

”They’ve been lights-out, and they’re starting to get accustomed to the season,” manager Ned Yost said

The Royals (9-7) are 9-0 when scoring at least four runs, and 0-7 when they don’t.

”When we get that magic number,” designated hitter Billy Butler said, ”we’re hard to beat.”

Minnesota was hurt Saturday by starter Kevin Correia’s rocky fourth inning in which he gave up all five of Kansas City’s runs.

”Some good things happened. Unfortunately, we had one bad inning and it cost us a ballgame,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. ”If we make the plays we’re supposed to make we win.”

Gardenhire saw one bad inning hurt Phil Hughes (0-1, 7.20) in Tuesday’s 9-3 loss to Toronto. Hughes took a shutout into the sixth but did not retire a batter in that frame as all four he faced came around to score.

"I thought the ball was coming out of his hand really good," Gardenhire said. "All of a sudden I think it was three or four hits in a row and I don’t know what happened."

Hughes has now allowed four runs in five innings in all three 2014 outings as he searches for his first Twins victory. The right-hander is 5-2 with a 6.10 ERA in eight career starts against the Royals.

Alex Gordon is 6 for 18 against Hughes as he tries to end an eight-game drought without an RBI.

Kansas City has five homers for the majors’ worst total. Butler, Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer all have yet to go deep.

Twins right fielder Chris Colabello has an AL-best 19 RBIs, but none in his last four meetings with the Royals.