The Minnesota Twins will try to ride Saturday's momentum into the finale today as they host the Kansas City Royals at Target Field to conclude a four-game series between the American League Central foes.
The Twins snapped a three-game slide by winning both games in yesterday's doubleheader. Scott Diamond pitched eight innings and held the visitors to six hits and two earned runs to power Minnesota's 7-2 triumph in yesterday's early game.
Cole De Vries followed up Diamond's gem by allowing only one earned run on five hits and striking out six in six innings to lead the Twins to a 5-1 triumph in yesterday's nightcap. Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham, and Chris Parmelee all belted home runs in Saturday's late game, which generated enough run production to help Minnesota win a doubleheader at Target Field for the first time.
Mauer's continued success versus the Royals brought his career batting average to .351 and his on-base percentage to .435 in this series.
Minnesota's home run-based offense in the second game of Saturday's double header was a breath of fresh air as it came into the game last with an American League-low 59 home runs.
"The ball's been flying here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We all know the big fence in right field -- we know that's going to eat a few balls up. But the ball was going along pretty good out there. It's been flying at home here with the temperatures like they've been."
Francisco Liriano will take the mound today as the Twins look to make it three in a row. The former All-Star comes in with a 2-7 record and a 5.30 ERA, but he has shown signs of improvement as of late. The left-hander allowed just one earned run on four hits and fanned five White Sox batters in seven innings on Monday. Liriano leads the team with 70 strikeouts.
The Royals will send Bruce Chen to the hill today as they gear up to get back on track. The left-hander earned wins and allowed only one earned run in each of his last two outings. Chen now has a 7-6 record this season after holding the Rays to five hits and one earned run over seven innings on Tuesday. Royals manager Ned Yost knows how valuable and effective today's starter can be.
"He's such a good big league pitcher, because he changes speeds very effectively, he throws strikes, he's on the attack, different arm angles, different locations, keeps hitters off-balance really well," Yost said.
The Royals would like to provide more run support today after amassing only three runs in two games on Saturday.
"The first game we were dead and it carried over to the second game," a drained-looking Jeff Francoeur said. "We're a much better hitting team than to do what we did today. Very disappointing and, probably for me, the most disappointing day of the year -- coming in here with two games and getting swept like this. It's not good, especially after gaining all that momentum coming back."
Designated hitter Billy Butler hit a solo home run in Saturday's late game after going hitless in four at-bats in the early one. The solo shot gave him his 16th home run and 48th RBI of the season, both of which are team highs.
Alcides Escobar, who is leading Kansas City with a .313 batting average, went 0-for-5 with a walk over the course of yesterday's games.
Kansas City's 35-41 record has it 3 1/2 games ahead of the last place Twins in the American League Central coming into this one.