Two of the three teams in the American League Central that are playing sub-.500 baseball get together on Sunday afternoon as the Minnesota Twins host the Kansas City Royals in the finale of a four-game set at Target Field.
In addition to the Chicago White Sox, who are bringing up the rear in the division standings, both the Royals and Twins are trying to get back to even ground at this stage. On Saturday, Minnesota took a step in the right direction as he tallied five runs in the bottom of the first inning and another in the second, en route to a 6-2 victory.
The Twins, six games out of first in the standings, were led by Trevor Plouffe who hit a two-run home run and plated three overall as the squad won for the second time in the last three outings. Justin Morneau stroked a double in the first frame to plate a pair as well. Brian Dozier scored twice in the contest.
Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson picked up a win in his major league debut as he allowed two runs on eight hits and struck out five through six innings.
"He's a pretty calm kid, very sure of himself," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Gibson. "We've seen that. He kind of did what I was hoping he would do, just go out there and have some fun. You could see the smile on his face. It's not too often when you take a pitcher out of the game and they say, 'Thank you.'"
Kansas City, just a half game ahead of the Twins in the standings, didn't have much of a chance after starter Wade Davis was blown out of the water. Davis lasted just a single inning, permitting six runs on five hits and five bases- on-balls. Davis threw 53 pitches, the most in a major league first inning in nearly six years.
"Just off. No release point at all," Davis said of his outing. "I was trying to throw it down the middle of the plate and it was running off, a lot of movement. Right to left. It was cuttin'. It was ridin'. Just one that I'm going to forget, real quick."
The Royals scored both of their runs in the top of the second as Alcides Escobar and Jarrod Dyson came around to score.
Now in his ninth major league season, the first with Kansas City after playing for the LA Angels, Ervin Santana readies himself to take the hill for the Royals this afternoon.
The right-hander is an even 5-5 on the campaign but has not earned a victory in more than two weeks. Santana last pitched on Tuesday versus Atlanta at home and made it through six innings, permitting three runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out seven, but he did not factor into the decision.
Santana has already suited up against Minnesota once this season, giving up just a single run as he scattered eight hits through eight innings the second week of April. With that victory, Santana is now 5-3 with a 3.95 ERA in 11 all-time appearances versus the Twins.
Set to counter for the home team today is Kevin Correia. The right-hander last appeared against Miami on the road earlier this week, giving up just two runs on five hits and two walks, striking out a pair over six innings, but he still absorbed his fifth loss of the season in the process.
Correia was the opponent for Santana when the teams met back in April as well, with Correia suffering the loss as he allowed three runs on eight hits through 7 1/3 innings. With the setback, Correia is now 0-2 in his career versus KC.
Minnesota still trails the season series with the Royals by a count of 6-3 following last night's victory, but the club did post a record of 34-20 in the three seasons prior to this versus Kansas City.