Twins-Royals Preview

Heading to Kansas City has helped the Minnesota Twins end their

woes. The struggling Brian Duensing is hoping a matchup with the

Royals will have the same effect.

The left-hander will try to snap his five-game skid by leading

the Twins to their first four-game sweep of the Royals in nearly

five years Sunday.

Before traveling to Kauffman Stadium, Minnesota had dropped 10

of 12 and started 0-3 on its 10-game road trip. The Twins (20-37)

have turned things around by outscoring the Royals 20-6 over the

last three games, and Saturday’s 7-2 win might have been one of

their more impressive performances.

They produced 13 hits without Justin Morneau and Denard Span in

the lineup. Alexi Casilla matched a career high with four hits and

drove in two runs.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he’ll see how Morneau’s sore

left wrist is feeling Sunday before deciding whether to play the

former MVP. Span’s status is uncertain after the center fielder

hurt his neck while attempting to complete an inside-the-park home

run Friday, colliding with Royals catcher Brayan Pena at the

plate.

As Minnesota seeks its first four-game sweep of Kansas City

(25-33) since Aug. 3-6, 2006, Duensing (2-5, 5.37 ERA) tries to

earn his first win since April 23.

Since then, the Twins have lost all seven of his starts as the

left-hander has gone 0-5 with a 7.39 ERA. He didn’t make it out of

a six-run fifth inning in Tuesday’s 8-7 loss to Detroit.

“It’s getting to the point where it’s not very fun, I’ll tell

you that much,” Duensing told the team’s website. “It feels like

every time you come to the ballpark, it’s a new day, but with the

way things are going, for me personally, it’s tough. You used to

come to the ballpark and be excited to be here, but now it’s really

hard.”

Duensing might have a little more fun Sunday as he’s 3-1 with a

2.53 ERA in five starts against the Royals. However, his current

losing streak began in Kansas City on April 30 despite giving up

three runs – two earned – over seven innings.

The Royals tacked on eight more runs after Duensing left, and

the 11-2 win was part of a three-game sweep. Kansas City, though,

has dropped 25 of 35 meetings with its AL Central rival and 25 of

36 at home.

Duensing will be opposed by Jeff Francis (2-5, 4.46).

The left-hander is 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA in his last three starts,

including a victory Tuesday as Kansas City beat Los Angeles

7-3.

After giving up two runs and four hits in the first inning, he

yielded one run and four hits over his final six.

“He’s been through it,” manager Ned Yost said. “He knows it’s

not the end of the world. Especially early in the game when you

give up two runs and we haven’t even hit yet. … It’s just

experience and confidence, knowing if he makes his pitches he’s

going to get through it.”