Royals-Twins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 11, 2012
The Kansas City Royals are coming off another series win over a division opponent. The only AL Central foe they have yet to win a series against is the Minnesota Twins. The Royals open a three-game road set against the Twins on Tuesday night. Kansas City is 26-27 against the AL Central this year, losing 10 of 15 against Minnesota. The Royals (63-77) have won five of their last six series against division rivals, dropping two of three to Minnesota to begin September. Kansas City won two of three at first-place Chicago over the weekend, taking the series with a 2-1 win in 10 innings Sunday. Jeremy Guthrie went eight scoreless innings and Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur hit consecutive RBI singles with two outs in the 10th. "The defense really set the tone for the game,'' Guthrie said. ''We could have been down two or three runs right away, but we made not even routine, but excellent plays to get out of some innings and avoid some rallies.'' Salvador Perez went 2 for 5 and is batting .356 (21 for 59) with eight RBIs and 10 runs scored during a career-best 14-game hitting streak. He's hitting .393 (11 for 28) in eight games against Minnesota this year. The Royals have been outscored 22-11 during a three-game skid at Target Field. Minnesota (59-82) seeks a fourth straight victory after taking the final three games of its four-game set with Cleveland. The Twins last won four straight June 30-July 3 when they put together a season-high five-game run. Justin Morneau drove in a pair of runs in Monday's 7-2 victory after he had two homers and three RBIs on Sunday. Joe Mauer went 7 for 16 with three RBIs in the four-game series against the Indians, and should be looking forward to facing the Royals again. Mauer is batting .425 (17 for 40) with two homers, four doubles, nine RBIs and nine runs in 11 games this season versus Kansas CIty. Morneau is 2 for 5 with a home run and double against Will Smith (4-7, 5.45 ERA), who takes the ball for the Royals on Tuesday. Smith is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in his last three starts and facing the Twins isn't likely to help him end that skid. The rookie left-hander is 0-2 with an 8.44 in two outings against Minnesota, both at home. The Twins counter with Scott Diamond (11-6, 3.35), who snapped a four-start winless streak last Tuesday against Chicago, allowing four runs and seven hits in five innings of an 18-9 victory. It was the fifth time this season Minnesota provided him with double-digit run support. "I can't complain, that's for sure," said Diamond, whose 7.5 run-support average is easily the largest in the majors. The left-hander is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against the Royals this year. He allowed four runs and matched a career high with 10 hits over six innings in a 7-3 loss July 21 in Kansas City. Royals left fielder Alex Gordon is 4 for 7 against Diamond.
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