The Kansas City Royals posted a crucial victory in the series opener and look to add another win when they visit the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in the middle contest of a three-game set. Mike Moustakas slugged a three-run homer to fuel a 7-6 victory on Friday that moved the Royals within 3 1/2 games of the Twins for the American League’s second wild-card spot.
Moustakas’ blast was his first since Aug. 15 and 36th season of the season to tie Steve Balboni (1985) for the franchise single-season mark. Melky Cabrera, who is just 2-for-23 against scheduled Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson, tied a season high of four hits on Friday to help Kansas City win for just the second time in eight games. Minnesota saw its four-game winning streak come to an end and the Twins trail the New York Yankees by one game for the first wild-card berth while leading the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore by 1 1/2 for the second. Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco went deep in the opener and has seven homers in the past 12 contests.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, FSN North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals LH Onelki Garcia (0-0, 7.94 ERA) vs. Twins RH Kyle Gibson (8-10, 5.59)
Garcia will be making his first major-league start in the rotation spot of injured Danny Duffy after going 7-3 with a 4.75 ERA in the minors with stops at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. The 28-year-old Cuban was signed out of the Mexican League last fall after fearing his big-league career was over when the Chicago White Sox organization released him in the spring of 2016. “I never put my head down,” Garcia told the Kansas City Star. “There were times I wanted to give it up and get a job doing something else because I wasn’t seeing any progress. But my wife pushed me to keep going. She kept telling me baseball was what I liked to do, what I know how to do.”
Gibson has won back-to-back decisions and struck out 15 while allowing three runs in 13 2/3 innings during the stretch. The 29-year-old has struggled at home this season by going 3-7 with a 6.57 ERA in 12 starts at Target Field. Gibson has a 5.23 ERA in two no-decisions versus the Royals this season and stands 5-4 with a 3.79 ERA in 13 career starts against them.
1. Friday’s victory was just the Royals’ second in seven games at Target Field this season.
2. Minnesota C Jason Castro (concussion) is making progress and could be activated early next week.
3. Among Kansas City’s Sept. 1 roster moves were claiming RHP Sam Gaviglio off waivers from the Seattle Mariners, activating RHP Trevor Cahill (shoulder) from the 10-day disabled list and releasing RHP Neftali Feliz (who was on DL with an elbow injury).
PREDICTION: Twins 8, Royals 5