Dominican right-hander Esmerling Vasquez makes the first start of his major-league career when the Minnesota Twins visit Kauffman Stadium to close out a three-game weekend set with the Kansas City Royals.

A 28-year-old originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2003, Vasquez reached the majors in 2009 and made 141 consecutive relief appearances with a 4.66 earned run average through 2011.

He was picked up on waivers by the Twins last fall and made 31 appearances - eight starts - at Triple-A Rochester this season while going 9-6 with a 2.78 ERA in 100 1/3 innings.

He was promoted this week and gets the start as part of Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire's preliminary plan to use a six-man pitching rotation.

Vasquez has allowed an opposition batting average of .244 in the majors, striking out 120 batters and allowing 125 hits in 137 innings.

He's pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief against the Royals while allowing a pair of hits and getting one strikeout.

Kansas City sends 28-year-old righty Luis Mendoza to face him while Mendoza seeks a third win against the Twins in his fourth meeting with them.

He was a 7-3 winner when he last faced them on July 21 in Kansas City, emerging with the triumph after giving up three runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings with four strikeouts.

He's 3-3 in seven starts since, including a no-decision in his last start on Aug. 28 against Detroit.

In 12 home appearances in 2012, Mendoza is 3-4 with a 5.05 ERA in 66 innings.

On Saturday, Joe Mauer crushed a grand slam and the Twins completed a doubleheader sweep of the Royals with an 8-7 win in the nightcap.

Chris Parmelee smacked a three-run home run for the Twins, who took the opener of the twin bill, 3-1, behind a solid outing from Cole De Vries.

Anthony Swarzak (3-4) picked up the win with 2 2/3 innings of relief behind starter Liam Hendriks, who allowed five runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts. Kyle Waldrop worked the eighth and Glen Perkins picked up his second save of the day with a scoreless ninth.

"It was a good day for us," Mauer said. "It's tough to take both games of a doubleheader, especially against the Royals. We always seem like we have good battles whenever we play them."

Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer drove in two runs apiece, while Salvador Perez went 4-for-5 with an RBI single. Billy Butler had three hits, including an RBI base hit, and scored three times for the Royals.

Luke Hochevar (7-13) took the loss after being tagged for eight runs on six hits and a season-high four walks in just 1 2/3 innings.

"I don't think that you ever think, 'I don't have it today,'" Hochevar said. "When you toe the rubber, I'm fighting for every single pitch."

The Twins won eight of 12 games against the Royals to start the 2012 series, including winning two of three when the teams last met in a three-game set from July 20-22 in Kansas City. The Twins won the series last season, 10 games to eight.