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Minnesota Twins (8-7) at Kansas City Royals (7-7)
Friday, April 18 - 8:10 PM EST
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
The Kansas City Royals have revenge on their minds when they host the Minnesota Twins for a three-game series beginning Friday. Kansas City was outscored 21-5 in a three-game sweep in Minnesota last weekend, but rebounded by winning three straight against Houston for its first road victories of the season. The Twins swept Toronto in a split doubleheader Thursday, scoring six runs in the eighth inning of the nightcap on one hit, eight walks and three wild pitches en route to a 9-5 victory.
Minnesota's Chris Colabello, who leads the American League with 19 RBIs, went 8-for-12 and drove in five runs in the three-game set with Toronto and is hitting .357. The Royals are starting to come out of their offensive slump with 15 runs in their last three games, although Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas are hitting a combined .146, but Moustakas has driven in a run in two straight games. Kansas City's Jason Vargas is an excellent form with three quality starts to begin the season and will oppose Ricky Nolasco, who defeated the Royals in his last turn and makes his first career start at Kauffman Stadium.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), FSN Kansas City
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Ricky Nolasco (1-1, 5.50 ERA) vs. Royals LH Jason Vargas (1-0, 1.64)
After allowing five runs in each of his first two starts, Nolasco allowed one run and five hits in eight innings - the longest start by a Minnesota pitcher this season - in the Twins' 7-1 victory over Kansas City on Saturday. The 31-year-old Corona, Calif., native, who went 8-3 with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season after being traded by Miami in early July, worked with pitching coach Rick Anderson and made an adjustment in his mechanics by not flying open with his front shoulder. "That's just trying to do too much, being too excited," Nolasco told the Pioneer Press. "So you just go back and slow yourself down and finish pitches."
Vargas pitched well enough to win - two runs and five hits in seven innings - but at least wasn't saddled with the loss when the Royals lost 4-3 at Minnesota on Sunday. The 31-year-old Apple Valley, Calif., native, who was 9-8 with the Los Angeles Angels last season, is 2-3 with a 4.92 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) against the Twins. Joe Mauer (9-for-21, six RBIs) has given Vargas the most trouble while Minnesota catcher Josmil Pinto hit a two-run homer against him Sunday.
1. Minnesota's Joe Mauer on Thursday was named Major League Baseball’s 2014 All-Star Ambassador for the game, slated to be played in Minneapolis on July 15.
2. Kansas City recalled LHP Justin Marks from Triple-A Omaha after placing OF Lorenzo Cain (groin) on the 15-day disabled list.
3. Minnesota 2B Brian Dozier hit his third leadoff homer of the season Thursday and has five overall.
PREDICTION: Royals 3, Twins 2