Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 8/31/12
The Kansas City Royals have spent the last month looking like a team that's poised to give contenders fits down the stretch. That's just what the woeful Minnesota Twins have done to them. The Royals can finish August with the AL Central's best record if they can finally figure out the visiting Twins on Friday night and record a season high-tying fourth straight win. Kansas City (59-71) was 18 games under .500 through July, but it's 17-11 in August after finishing a sweep of playoff-contending Detroit with Thursday's 2-1 win. The Royals have been at their best this month within the Central. They're 10-1 against their rivals after going 13-23 within the division during the season's first four months. Kansas City won all three games against the Tigers by one run, improving to 23-16 in such situations. "Close ballgames, high intensity in the ninth inning, so it was a good team win - all three of them," said left fielder Alex Gordon, who homered Thursday and is hitting .417 during an eight-game hitting streak. The Royals' recent success against the Central has come against the Tigers, White Sox and Indians, but Friday will be Kansas City's first look at Minnesota (53-78) since it's gotten things turned around. Shockingly, that might not be a good thing. The Royals are 4-8 against Minnesota in 2012, having dropped the past three series. Kansas City won its last two games against the Tigers despite scoring only three total runs, but might need a few more Friday. After lasting seven innings apiece in a pair of strong starts earlier in August, Will Smith (4-6, 5.55 ERA) has regressed. The rookie left-hander gave up four runs in 3 2-3 innings in a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Aug. 20, then surrendered five in five frames of an 8-6 defeat at Boston on Sunday. "Just not a good day. It just wasn't there today," Smith said after falling to the Red Sox. "Couldn't get anybody out, just gave up a lot of base hits. Nothing was working." Nothing was working at all in his lone previous look at the Twins. Smith gave up seven runs over 4 2-3 innings in a 10-7 home loss June 4, surrendering homers to Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau and Trevor Plouffe. His opponent that day was fellow rookie Cole De Vries (3-5, 4.68), who earned his first major league win despite giving up five runs in five innings. The right-hander was much better June 30 at Target Field, holding the Royals to one run in six innings of a 5-1 victory. He then went nearly two months without a win before earning one in a tough environment Sunday. De Vries held Texas to two runs - one earned - and three hits over five innings as Minnesota won 6-5. "I'm happy to have a performance like that against a powerful offense," De Vries said. His own offense hasn't done much lately. The Twins have averaged 3.48 runs while going 4-17 in their last 21 games and haven't won back-to-back contests since Aug. 6 and 7 following Thursday's 5-4 loss to Seattle. "It's frustrating and it's disappointing at the same time," pitcher Brian Duensing said. "We feel we've got a good team, a good offense and pitching and everything, but we just can't quite put it together, it seems like."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Hernandez's prison calls to Pouncey could come up in trial

Josh Hamilton experiences pain in reconstructed knee, leaves camp

Report: Pacers gauging trade market for Paul George

Washington eyeing Romo as potential Cousins replacement?

Joey Porter fight video from outside bar released

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Celtics’ unwillingness to deal Crowder roadblock in Butler deal

Sammy Sosa compares himself to Jesus talking about PED accusations

Philip Rivers: ‘I will always be playing for San Diego’

Yankees dramatically increase ticket prices for Derek Jeter Night

Report: Sixers may consider Noel trade if Okafor is not moved

Report: Belichick wants to coach at least five more years, outlast Brady

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

Box Score 2/22: Not everyone is happy with the new intentional walk rule

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

Box Score 2/21: It's trade heartbreak season

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

We got our hands on the new Nintendo Switch, here are our first impressions

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win the MVP award

Teams, players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win 100 games with two different teams

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker