The Kansas City Royals try to continue their recent mastery of the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday when they start a three-game series against their American League Central foes at Target Field.
Kansas City, which is trying for its first winning season since 2003, has beaten the Twins in 12 of the 16 matchups this season and has already claimed its first season series against them since 2003.
While the Royals enter this matchup two games above .500, they find themselves on the outside looking in at the AL playoff race, as they are 10 1/2 games back in the division and seven behind in the wild card chase.
Kansas City, though, plays its next 10 games against teams with a losing record.
The Royals may have sent a message to the rest of the AL on Monday with an emphatic, 11-1, win over the Tampa Bay Rays in a makeup game from a rainout in early May. Billy Butler finished 3-for-3 with a solo homer, three RBI and three runs scored for Kansas City in that one, as the Royals won their second straight after a seven-game slide.
"We were bound to score some runs after having a tough stretch," Butler said. "Everybody wants to make something out of it, but it's just part of the season. The guys in here never panicked and won't continue. Nothing comes as a surprise for us."
Hoping for that same type of support on Tuesday will be veteran right-hander James Shields, who has won four of his last six starts and is 8-8 with a 3.22 ERA. Shields did not get a decision on Thursday against Chicago, as he allowed three runs and nine hits in seven innings. He also struck out eight without walking a batter in his team's 4-3 loss.
Since losing to the Twins on Aug. 6, he has a 2.14 ERA in three starts. Shields is 6-3 lifetime against Minnesota with a 4.45 ERA in 14 starts.
Minnesota, meanwhile, has lost eight of 11 and will turn to righty Kevin Correia on Tuesday. Correia dropped his fourth decision in five chances on Wednesday in Detroit, as he allowed four runs (2 earned) and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings, dropping him to 8-10 to go along with a 4.52 ERA.
Correia may not be able to get off the schneid on Tuesday, as he owns an 0-3 mark against the Royals with a 6.75 ERA in five starts.
The Royals' 12 wins are already the most by a Kansas City club against the Twins, topping 11-win campaigns against them in 1975 and 2003.