The Minnesota Twins recorded the most victories in the majors in August and look to start a new month off strongly when they open a three-game series against the visiting Kansas City Royals on Friday. Minnesota, which went 20-10, won 20 games in a month for just the second time in the past 25 seasons and has emerged victorious in its past four contests.
The Twins rallied to score two ninth-inning runs for a 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday and hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the battle for the American League’s second wild-card spot. Minnesota set a club mark with five players delivering at least 20 RBIs in August - Eddie Rosario led the way with 25, followed by Jorge Polanco (23), Byron Buxton (22), Brian Dozier (22) and Max Kepler (21). The series is crucial for Kansas City after the squad dropped six of its last seven contests to fall 4 1/2 games behind the Twins. “We’re right in this thing,” Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield told reporters. “We’ve got a month or so of games to make a move.”
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, FSN North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Jason Hammel (6-10, 4.76 ERA) vs. Twins RH Dillon Gee (1-1, 3.53)
Hammel began his last start against the Cleveland Indians with 5 1/3 perfect innings before serving up three homers and allowing four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings while taking the loss. The product of Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Oregon, turns 35 on Saturday and he has issued one or fewer walks in each of his last eight turns. Hammel has been pounded by the Twins this season - 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA in three starts - and is 2-3 with a 5.26 ERA in 10 career appearances (nine starts) against Minnesota.
Gee is making his third start for the Twins after splitting his first two despite allowing three homers. The 31-year-old lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in his last turn when he was touched up for four runs and seven hits in four innings. Gee received a no-decision in his lone career start against the Royals when he allowed one run and three hits over seven innings in 2013.
1. Twins All-Star 3B Miguel Sano (shin) underwent more tests on Thursday with his progress being behind schedule.
2. Kansas City C Salvador Perez, who is 2-for-23 over his past six games, is batting .360 with 14 homers and 38 RBIs at Target Field.
3. Minnesota CF Byron Buxton (hand) is day-to-day and Thursday’s MRI exam displayed a bone bruise but no fractures stemming from Wednesday’s injury.
PREDICTION: Twins 7, Royals 5