After belting four home runs on Friday, the Kansas City Royals hope to continue their power surge on Saturday afternoon when they clash with the Minnesota Twins in the third of a four-game set at Target Field.
Eric Hosmer delivered his fifth and sixth home runs of the season last night, while Mike Moustakas and Billy Butler also went deep for the Royals during their 9-3 thumping. Hosmer and Butler both finished with three hits and three RBI, while Alcides Escobar scored twice for a squad that has alternated wins and losses over the last six games and is now three games under .500 for the season.
James Shields picked up his first win since the end of April as he permitted three runs on eight hits and struck out five over the course of 6 1/3 innings.
"It's definitely a big weight taken off," Shields said. "The two-month anniversary was coming up on not getting a win. But this team has been grinding all season long. We've won the last six of my games and I have no doubt we're going to keep going up from here."
Minnesota starter P.J. Walters was saddled with the loss after giving up six runs on as many hits through a mere three innings of action. Reliever Anthony Swarzak didn't do much better though, allowing three runs on five hits in four innings.
"We all have games where we struggle, everybody in the league has them," stated Walters after his performance. "I've just put two in a row together. In my eyes that's unacceptable. To the team, I'm sure it is, too."
One of three Twins players with two hits, Clete Thomas notched his second home run of the campaign for a Minnesota squad which has bowed in three of the last four outings and is now fourth in the AL Central standings, seven games out of first.
Scheduled to make his major league debut for the Twins this afternoon is Kyle Gibson. Due to mounting pitching concerns with the big club, Gibson was just called up from Triple-A Rochester where he had a 3.01 ERA and had tossed at least six innings in seven straight starts.
Gibson, who most think will end up staying with the Twins through the rest of the campaign, is less than two years removed from having Tommy John elbow surgery.
Countering for the Royals will be the slightly more experienced Wade Davis, who is now in his fifth major league campaign. The right-hander, a third-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays back in 2004, has won just one game in the last six weeks.
Most recently the Florida native matched up against the Chicago White Sox last weekend, making it through seven innings, allowing two runs on eight hits while striking out six in what became a 3-2 setback at home.
Earlier this month Davis clashed with Minnesota at home, but again he went without a decision after giving up three runs on four hits and three walks through only five innings. For his career, Davis has a 3-0 mark with a 3.57 ERA in eight appearances versus the Twins.
Despite having lost the head-to-head matchups against the Twins in each of the last three seasons, Kansas City is ahead 6-2 in 2013.