Twins, Royals open another weekend set

By The Sports NetworkApril 18, 2014 at 9:43 AM
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( - The surging Kansas City Royals will be seeking revenge as they begin a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins on Friday.

The Twins swept Kansas City last weekend, outscoring the Royals 21-5 over the course of the three-game set at Target Field. Kansas City bounced back with three consecutive wins over the Astros.

The Royals downed Houston, 5-1, on Thursday behind the strength of a promising offensive performance.

"It seemed like they were just putting the bat on the ball early and often," Astros starter Scott Feldman admitted of the Royals. "It was just kind of one of those nights."

Kansas City came up with clutch hits en route to a 4-for-11 finish with runners in scoring position. Norichika Aoki and Alex Gordon both went 2-for-4 and scored two runs each. Alcides Escobar went 1-for-4 with two RBI and a double.

The Royals will look for their fourth win in a row as Jason Vargas makes his fourth start. Vargas has been outstanding on his way to a 1-0 record and 1.64 ERA. The southpaw held the Twins to two runs on five hits over seven innings on Sunday, but received a no-decision despite the strong effort. Providing run support for Kansas City's starters has been an issue in the early going as the Royals rank 26th in the MLB in runs with 47 and 30th in slugging percentage at .333.

Minnesota will hope Ricky Nolasco can prevent the Royals from rising in the offensive rankings. Nolasco stifled Kansas City in his last appearance, allowing just one run on five hits over eight innings to pick up his only win of the season on Saturday.

"I wish I could say I'm going to go eight every time," he said after the decision, "but it's something at this level that's very difficult. I had two bad starts, but at the same time my mentality is I can still do things like today."

This will be the first career start for Nolasco at Kauffman Stadium.

Minnesota also has some momentum heading into the series with five wins in its last six games. The Twins impressed on Thursday with a double-header sweep of Toronto. They coasted to a 7-0 victory in the first game before picking up a 9-5 win later on.

Offensively, the Twins are jelling as a unit. They caught fire in the eighth inning of the second game on Thursday, scoring six runs while racking up eight walks, which set a franchise record for bases on balls in an inning for Toronto.

"It was just a combination of guys having good at-bats and not trying to do too much," said Chris Colabello, who leads the AL with 19 RBI and the MLB with nine doubles. "It's easy in that situation to get too amped up and go after pitches out of the zone. But it was obviously an awesome approach by everyone."

Colabello collected three hits and three RBI, while Brian Dozier stroked a solo home run and scored three times for the Twins. Minnesota has scored the second most runs among MLB clubs with 86 and ranks first with a .353 on-base percentage. The Twins are still hitting only .245 as a unit.

Vargas is 2-3 with a 4.92 ERA in 10 career games versus Minnesota.


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