Minnesota Twins (8-9) at Kansas City Royals (9-7)
Sunday, April 20 - 2:10 PM EST
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
The Minnesota Twins humiliated the Kansas City Royals during a three-game sweep last weekend, but the Royals are in prime position to return the favor when they wrap up a three-game set at home on Sunday. Kansas City, which was outscored 21-5 in Minnesota less than a week ago, hasn’t lost since thanks to the work of its pitching staff. During their five-game winning streak, the Royals have posted a 1.91 ERA – a stretch that began when Sunday’s starter, Yordano Ventura, last took the mound.
The relievers have also been holding up their end of the deal for Kansas City as the bullpen threw four hitless innings in Saturday’s 5-4 victory to extend its scoreless-innings streak to 14. The Twins surprisingly boast the American League’s second-best offense (90 runs) and lead the majors in drawing walks (88), but both have been in short supply in this series. Minnesota was shut out in the opener and has mustered six walks in Kansas City after coaxing 18 free passes out of the Royals’ pitchers last weekend.
TV: 2:10 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), FSN Kansas City
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Phil Hughes (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. Royals RH Yordano Ventura (1-0, 0.69)
Hughes held the Toronto Blue Jays scoreless through five innings on Tuesday, but ended up surrendering four runs without recording another out en route to a 9-3 loss. The former 2004 first-round pick of the New York Yankees, who is 0-8 since July 2, has been tagged for four runs in five innings in each of his three 2014 outings. Although the Royals handed him his first loss during his winless stretch to increase his ERA against them to 5.95, Hughes holds a 5-2 mark against them in nine all-time appearances (eight starts).
After failing to collect a victory in any of his three turns last September and settling for a no-decision in his first start this season, Ventura allowed two runs (one earned) and fanned seven over seven frames to secure his first major-league victory Tuesday against the Houston Astros. The 22-year-old Dominican was even more impressive in his first outing against the Tampa Bay Rays one week earlier, holding them to two hits over six scoreless innings. Ventura, who will make his sixth career start, will face Minnesota for the first time.
1. The Royals are 9-0 when scoring at least four runs and 0-7 when they score three runs or fewer.
2. Kansas City ranks last in the majors with five homers, nearly half as many as the next-worst team (Baltimore Orioles, nine).
3. Minnesota DH Chris Colabello has an AL-best 19 RBIs, but only one in five games against the Royals.
PREDICTION: Royals 5, Twins 2