Royals kick off much-needed 10-game homestand against Twins

Kauffman Stadium will look mighty good to the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals, who were off Thursday, open a 10-game homestand Friday, starting with three gamesagainst the Minnesota Twins. They play 16 of their next 20 at Kauffman Stadium.

It is certainly an understatement to say the road has not been kind to the Royals. Theycompleted a seven-game trip Wednesday to Chicago and Texas without a victory.

"It's frustrating to lose," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "I don't think we've gone a whole road trip without a win since I've been here.

"It couldn't be a better day for an off-day (Thursday) and then a homestand. We always play better at home."

The last time the Royals had a winless trip of this length was an 0-9 voyage in 2006, a season in which they lost 100 games.

The Royals are in last place in the American League Central, having lost 14 of 21 games. If they are to get into postseason contention, they need to turn it around fast.

"If there's something that could set it off, it's definitely a 10-game homestand," Hosmer said.

The Royals' offense has been on the puny side. They have scored two or fewer runs in nine of their past 10 games. The Royals are last in the majors with 54 runs, averaging 2.57 through 21 games.

"I don't know why we've had trouble on the road," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But there's definitely a comfort level at home."

The Royals began this season with three losses at Minnesota. They were outscored 21-5 at the Target Field games. Last year the Royals dominated the Twins, winning 15 of 19 games, including nine of 10 at The K.

The Twins actually have playedbetter on the road this season. They are 5-7 at home and 5-4 in away games.

The Twins' bullpen imploded in a Wednesday loss to the Rangers. With the scored tied at 2 after five innings and starter Hector Santiago laboring, manager Paul Molitor went to his bullpen. He used six relievers and they combined to give up 12 runs in three innings in a 14-3 loss.

"Not their best moment," Molitor said.

Taylor Rogers took the loss, giving up three runs and retiring only one, before Tyler Duffey replaced him.

"Twenty games isn't a huge measuring stick (of the bullpen)," Molitor said. "We're not lined up like we have set guys in set roles. Still kind of mixing and matching at times. I put Rogers in there in the sixth inning, which is a little abnormal. But I thought that the game was kind of in the balance at that particular point.

"He hits (Joey) Gallo to lead off the inning. He wasn't particularly sharp. We got Duffey in there to try to get a ground ball or a strikeout. He gets ahead and then he spikes one. The bullpen's been doing a good job overall."

Ian Kennedy will be the Royals' starter for the first game. His 0-2 record belies his 2.08 ERA.

The Royals have supported him with just two runs in his 26 innings on the mound. His 0.69 run-support average is the lowest in the majors for a minimum of four starts.

In his Saturday start at Texas, he allowed one run on four hits and three walks over seven innings in a no-decision. The Royals lost 2-1.

He is 4-2 with a 3.78 ERA in eight career starts against the Twins. He went 3-0 with a 2.86 ERA in five starts vs. Minnesota last season.

The Twins will counter with right-hander Kyle Gibson, who is also looking to pick up his first victory. He is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA.

He lasted just 2 2/3 innings in his previous start against Detroit, allowing seven runs.

He got a no-decision against the Royals on April 6, holding them to three runs in five innings. He is 5-4 with a 3.70 ERA in a dozen starts against Kansas City. Gibson is a 2009 first-round pick out of Missouri.

It might be a good day for Yost to put backup catcher Drew Butera in the lineup. He is 6-for-8 off Gibson. Starting catcher Salvador Perez has a .148 average (4-for-27) against Gibson.