Preview: Royals send Chen to the mound looking for sweep of Twins
Salvador Perez is on a tear of late, and that's also true of his career against the Minnesota Twins.
The All-Star catcher looks to continue his offensive barrage as the visiting Kansas City Royals try to maintain their recent dominance of the punchless Twins on Thursday.
Perez is 11 for 22 with four homers and 13 RBIs over his past five games, leading the Royals (68-64) to a four-game winning streak.
He turned in the best performance of his three-year career Wednesday, matching his career highs with four hits and four RBIs while hitting a personal-best two homers to power an 8-1 win. That came a day after he had two hits in a 6-1 victory to open this three-game set at Target Field.
"I can't say enough about our guy behind the plate," said Danny Duffy, Wednesday's winning pitcher. "Salvy really killed it."
Perez certainly does that against the Twins (57-74), batting .397 with 21 RBIs and 21 runs in 31 career meetings. He's 11 for 23 over his last five visits to Minnesota.
Kansas City has a 14-4 edge in the season series, winning six straight in Minneapolis for the team's longest single-season road winning streak in the all-time series. The Royals won seven in a row there from Aug. 4, 1998-May 10, 1999.
Giving the ball to Bruce Chen (5-2, 2.88 ERA), however, may not help them match that mark. The left-hander surrendered 12 runs and three homers in 8 1/3 innings while losing both of his starts at Target Field last year,
He hasn't looked much better lately, dropping his last two outings while giving up 13 runs in nine innings. That's in stark contrast to his 2-0 record and 0.93 ERA in his first six starts after joining the rotation last month.
This meeting with the Twins could be just what Chen needs to get untracked, though. Minnesota is batting .186 while being outscored 24-5 during a four-game losing streak.
The Twins fanned 10 times on Wednesday to reach the dubious distinction of amassing a franchise record for strikeouts (1,127) with 31 games still to play.
"Well, we definitely care about it, because it's not fun. It's not fun watching guys strike out," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But you know what? They're going up there. They're working hard. They're doing everything they possibly can. It's not like they're trying to strike out."
Josh Willingham is the biggest culprit with a team-high 102 strikeouts despite having missed nearly six weeks with a meniscus tear. He's offered very little at the plate recently, going 4 for 32 (.125) while fanning 12 times over the past eight games.
Willingham, though, is 4 for 11 with a double, a triple and a homer over the past two seasons versus Chen.
The Twins counter with Samuel Deduno (8-7, 3.69), who is looking to build on a strong effort in Friday's 5-1 win at Cleveland. He allowed one run and three hits in six innings after losing each of his previous three starts behind a 7.02 ERA.
The right-hander won his first three career starts versus Kansas City with a 0.93 ERA, but gave up four runs and 12 hits in a 5-2 road loss Aug. 7.
Perez is 3 for 8 with a homer off Deduno.