Preview: Twins at Royals
Three straight losses to the Kansas City Royals has left a sour taste in the Minnesota Twins’ mouths as they prepare to kick off their final road trip of the season, a 10-game, three-city jaunt that will include stops in Detroit and Oakland.
Minnesota has been outscored 24-11 in the three games and its frustrations appeared to boil over Friday night in a 10-3 rout by the Royals at Kauffman Stadium when Twins manager Paul Molitor and third-base coach Gene Glynn were ejected by home plate umpire Ben May during the Royals’ four-run fourth-inning rally.
The Twins, who fell to 4-10 in September, will try to avoid a sweep Sunday when they wrap up their season series with Kansas City behind right-hander Kyle Gibson.
Gibson held the New York Yankees to one run in 5 2/3 innings in his last outing, allowing just a home run to Gary Sanchez while striking out five. The Twins, though, managed just two runs in that game, leaving Gibson on the hook for a fourth consecutive loss and his sixth in his last eight starts.
“Kyle fought; there’s no question about it,” Molitor said. “He had a few situations he had to pitch around, including some free passes, but he did well. I was proud of him for how he hung in there.”
Sunday will mark Gibson’s 30th start of the season and his third against the Royals in 2018. He took the loss in their last meeting after allowing four runs and six hits and striking out five in 5 1/3 innings. Gibson is 6-5 with a 3.40 ERA in 18 career starts against Kansas City.
The Royals have won five of their last six games and 14 of their last 20, They’ll be trying to close out their first four-game sweep since taking four straight from the Twins on Aug. 18-21, 2016.
“We’re feeling like we’re a quality team right now that’s playing well,” said Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, one of the few remaining veteran players on a team in the early phases of a full-scale rebuilding process. “Whether you’re young or old, we’re just playing together and having fun. That’s really all that matters. It doesn’t matter who does it, just as long someone gets it done.”
Gordon had three hits, including two doubles Saturday night, and third baseman Alcides Escobar, another holdover from the Royals’ 2015 World Series run, drove in three while finishing with three hits.
Escobar is batting .319 (29-for-91) with eight doubles and Gordon has 27 RBI in his last 41 games.
“I’m just trying to stay simple,” Gordon said. “I’ve been working with (hitting coach) Terry (Bradshaw) and (quality control coach) Pedro (Grifol) a lot this year and trying to use the opposite way. Obviously, teams are shifting me, so a lot of my hits are going to come the other way and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. Not hitting into the shift but hit it where they aren’t.”
The Royals turn to right-hander Jakob Junis to start the finale. Junis turned in a gem in his last outing, allowing three runs in eight innings of a 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Junis has a 2.15 ERA in his last seven starts and hasn’t walked a batter in his last four.
“He’s on a roll right now,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “He’s making it easier on himself to go deep (into games).”
Junis is 0-1 with a 3.43 ERA in four starts against the Twins.