Twins-Royals Preview

The Kansas City Royals are very much in contention with August approaching.

A visit from the last-place Minnesota Twins could help them improve their position.

Kansas City looks to continue its recent home success against the Twins as these AL Central rivals open a three-game set Tuesday night.

Currently five games behind division-leading Detroit, the Royals (53-51) are also in the hunt for the league’s second wild-card spot. Kansas City had won five in a row before falling 10-3 to Cleveland on Sunday.

Billy Butler went 3 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI, but Kansas City failed to complete the four-game sweep.

"Winning three games against these guys is pretty good," left fielder Alex Gordon told MLB’s official website. "That’s a good team over there and we’re not satisfied with losing today, but we’re happy with the series."

The Royals may be able to bounce back against the Twins (47-57), who have dropped 10 of their last 13 at Kauffman Stadium. Butler is batting .444 with eight extra-base hits and 11 RBIs in his last 17 home games in the series.

Giving the ball to James Shields (9-5, 3.58 ERA) could help, too. The right-hander threw seven strong innings but didn’t receive a decision in Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

"I don’t really care about wins, as long as the team wins," said Shields, who allowed one run and struck out seven. "My main focus is to go to the playoffs. So no matter what happens, I’m going to go out there and keep my team in the game, and give us a chance to win every night."

Shields is 1-3 with a 4.88 ERA in his last four starts against Minnesota, but he’s received a combined two runs of support in those defeats. Shields has dropped both outings this year while allowing a combined 12 runs – five earned – over 10 2-3 innings.

The Twins closed a 3-7 homestand by avoiding a four-game sweep against the White Sox with Sunday’s 4-3 win. Danny Santana and Sam Fuld drove in all four runs for Minnesota, which rallied with a three-run seventh.

"Winning one isn’t a great consolation prize, but it’s better than losing," Glen Perkins said after converting his 25th save. ”Hopefully it’ll give us a little momentum. We came back, we battled back."

Kyle Gibson (8-8, 4.19) is ready to get back on the hill for Minnesota after battling a lower back issue. The right-hander hasn’t pitched since yielding all six runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay on July 18.

Gibson has posted a 2.19 ERA in winning each of his two starts against the Royals, including a 10-1 home victory April 11 earlier this year. While Gibson is 4-3 with a 3.28 ERA at Target Field, he’s compiled a 4.97 mark on the road.

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier is batting .111 over a nine-game stretch and hitless in his last 15 at-bats. However, he’s 7 for 17 with two homers and three doubles against Shields since the start of last year.

Dozier has walked once in 99 plate appearances this month after drawing 51 in 367 appearances in his first 80 games.