The Kansas City Royals are not giving up hope that they can make a run toward the postseason and will put their six-game winning streak on the line Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Sitting five games off one of the final two wild card spots and seven games behind in the AL Central, the Royals completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox with Sunday's 4-2 win in 12 innings. Alex Gordon's two-run homer in the top of the 12th inning propelled Kansas City to victory and brought the club back to .500.
"Getting back to .500, that was a chore," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We were like nine games under at one point ... so to get here was big."
Royals reliever Greg Holland worked around a pair of hits in the bottom of the 12th inning for his 27th save, while Aaron Crow threw a scoreless 11th for the win (7-3). Bruce Chen started for the Royals and hurled six innings of two-run ball in the no-decision.
The Royals will also visit the New York Mets on their nine-game road trip and hope Ervin Santana can keep the momentum going when he takes the mound Tuesday. Santana is 6-6 in 20 starts with a 3.06 earned run average and did not record a decision Wednesday in a 4-3 triumph over Baltimore, as he permitted three runs -- one earned -- in eight innings.
Santana, the subject of recent trade rumors, has made 12 career starts against the Twins and owns a 5-3 mark with a 3.99 ERA in that time. The righty is 1-0 in two starts against Minnesota this season.
Minnesota had won eight of 11 games until dropping a 6-4 decision Sunday to the Seattle Mariners in the finale of a four-game series. The Twins settled for a split of the set and starter Kyle Gibson was tagged with the loss, permitting five runs in five innings.
"This is the second game in a row I haven't gotten strike one," Gibson said. "As soon as I get strike one it's going to be a whole lot easier for me."
Chris Colabello was 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and a pair of runs scored in a losing effort. He has two homers and four RBI in the last three games.
Twins catcher Joe Mauer missed two games in Anaheim and the four-game series in Seattle due to his wife going into labor. Mauer, the 2009 AL MVP, is expected to be back in action versus the Royals. Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain could return after missing Sunday's game with a groin issue.
The Twins went 4-3 on their road trip and will open a six-game homestand Tuesday with Mike Pelfrey on the rubber. Pelfrey is 0-2 in his last three appearances and pitched well in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the LA Angels on Wednesday, when he delivered six innings of one-run ball.
Pelfrey, a right-hander, is 4-8 in 18 starts this season to go along with a 5.15 ERA. In two career starts against the Royals -- both this season -- Pelfrey is 0-1 with a less-than-stellar 9.72 ERA.
Minnesota is just 3-7 against the AL Central-rival Royals this season.