Twins-Royals Preview

The Kansas City Royals have finished last or tied for last in

the AL Central in six of the last seven seasons.

If they continue to pitch well, the Royals might stay out of the

cellar this year.

In his 100th career game, right-hander Luke Hochevar will try to

lead his team to a season high-tying fourth straight win in

Wednesday’s series finale against the last-place Minnesota

Twins.

While the Twins won their second straight division title in

2010, the Royals finished at the bottom of the standings once

again. Kansas City (63-86), however, leads Minnesota (59-88) by

three games following a 4-0 victory Tuesday night.

Bruce Chen and Louis Coleman combined to allow three hits and a

walk while striking out eight. Alex Gordon went 3 for 5 with a home

run and two RBIs, and Mike Moustakas hit his first career homer at

Kauffman Stadium.

“It’s important (to finish ahead of the Twins),” manager Ned

Yost told the team’s official website. “But what’s more important

is finishing in front of everybody.”

The Royals have allowed a combined three runs over three

consecutive wins and their starters have posted 16 consecutive

scoreless innings.

Hochevar (10-11, 4.73 ERA) will try to add to that run while

rebounding from his first loss in four starts. After winning

consecutive outings, the right-hander struck out a season-high nine

in Seattle on Thursday but allowed four runs over 6 2-3 innings of

a 4-1 defeat.

Hochevar is 3-3 with a 4.92 ERA in 10 career starts against

Minnesota and 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA in three this season. He gave up

one run and three hits over seven innings at Target Field on July

15 but did not get a decision in a 2-1 win.

This time, Hochevar will face a team that’s batted .208 while

dropping 18 of 22 and .170 during six consecutive road defeats.

The Twins will try to find their offense to support Liam

Hendriks (0-1, 3.86) in his second major league start.

The right-hander allowed three runs, four hits and three walks

in his major league debut, a 3-0 loss to Chicago on Sept. 6. He was

pressed into the starting rotation after injuries to Scott Baker,

Brian Duensing and Francisco Liriano.

“This is an audition,” Hendriks said. “Hopefully I can keep

doing well and we’ll see what happens from there. There’s a lot of

guys hurt. I’m not expecting to be in the lineup next year, but

we’ll see how it goes.”

Joe Mauer will try to help Hendriks by continuing his success

against Hochevar. He’s 9 for 18 with a pair of doubles in this

matchup.

Minnesota is trying to avoid its first last-place finish since

2000.