Royals seek continued dominance of Twins in pursuit of winning mark
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This season has not gone the way the Kansas City Royals and the Minnesota Twins wanted or expected.
The 2015 World Series champion Royals are on the cusp of being mathematically eliminated from the American League wild card. Their tragic number is one with six games left. Kansas City still needs three victories to assure a winning season.
The young Twins were a surprise in 2015, finishing above .500 and in second place in the AL Central. Instead of taking a step forward, the Twins lost their 100th game Sunday, falling 4-3 to the Seattle Mariners. It is just the Twins' second 100-loss season since moving to Minnesota in 1961. The other was 1982.
The Twins and Royals, who were both off Monday, open a three-game series Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals outslugged the Detroit Tigers on Sunday 12-9, with Raul Mondesi, Cheslor Cuthbert, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon going deep for Kansas City.
"That game really felt like it was a catfight, kicking and scratching, biting, clawing, eye-gouging," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Wade Davis picked up his 26th save in the victory. While the Royals' bullpen is not as strong as in the past two seasons, when it won back-to-back AL championships, it still remains one of the best in the majors. Other clubs are attempting to emulate the Royals by building stalwart bullpens.
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"Teams are seeing the value of it," Yost said. "I think that we proved last year that with a real strong, lock-down bullpen you can go a long way and win a world championship. It takes a lot of pressure off your starting pitchers; starting pitching is where you spend most of your money. I think we showed there are alternative ways you can be successful."
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who reached 100 RBIs for the first time Saturday, received a rare day off Sunday, but almost certainly will be in the lineup Tuesday.
"He's had one day off all year long," Yost said. "Like some guys, he's a little beat up. It's a perfect day for it. He got his 100th RBI (Saturday). It's a good day to just take a break."
The Twins wrap up their dismal season with six road games, three each at Kansas City and Chicago. They drew 1,963,912 fans to Target Field, where they lost 50 of 81 games.
"Despite the year, we felt supported by our fans, drawing close to two million fans in a year in which things did not go particularly well," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I just wanted to acknowledge that on behalf of the team. We appreciate the people coming out."
The Royals have had their way with the Twins this year, winning 13 of 16.
Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy will start the series opener. Kennedy, who has a 3.52 ERA in four September starts, is 3-0 with a 2.31 ERA against Minnesota this year. He is 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA in six career starts versus the Twins.
Kennedy lost his previous start, 4-3 Wednesday at Cleveland, allowing three runs and a season-high 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings for his first road defeat since July 1. Kennedy's 2.36 ERA since July 30 leads the American League, giving up 18 earned runs in 68 2/3 innings. He is 5-1 since that date after an 0-3 record and 4.96 ERA in July.
The Twins will counter with Jose Berrios, who has endured a rough rookie indoctrination -- 2-7 with an 8.88 ERA and only one quality start in his first dozen starts. Berrios threw three scoreless innings Wednesday against Detroit before rain washed it out. Prior to that, Berrios gave up two runs on four hits and three walks in four innings in a 3-0 loss at the New York Mets.
This will be his third start this year against the Royals. Berrios is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in the first two, yielding nine runs in nine innings. He has walked 31 and struck out 46 in 48 2/3 innings this year.