The Minnesota Twins haven’t participated in the postseason since 2010 but will be looking to protect their lead for the American League’s second wild-card when they visit the Kansas Royals on Saturday. Minnesota won the first two contests of the four-game set and has won three straight games overall to gain a two-game edge over the Los Angeles Angels with 21 games to play.
Center fielder Eddie Rosario homered and drove in four runs in Friday’s 8-5 victory and his stellar play includes 10 homers and 28 RBIs over his past 32 contests. Third baseman Eduardo Escobar is also hot after homering during his third three-hit game over the past seven outings, improving to 11-for-29 with four homers and 12 RBIs during the stretch. Kansas City is fading with 10 setbacks in its last 15 contests and sits 4 1/2 games behind the Twins. Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield has recorded three straight multi-hit outings and is 11-for-25 with six RBIs during his six-game hitting streak.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), FSN Kansas City
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Jose Berrios (12-7, 4.01 ERA) vs. Royals RHP Jake Junis (7-2, 4.48)
Berrios lost to Tampa Bay on Monday when he gave up five runs and seven hits over five innings. The 23-year-old has struggled on the road, going 4-6 with a 5.43 ERA in 12 outings (as opposed to 8-1, 2.56 in nine home turns). Berrios received a no-decision against the Royals when he served up three homers in five innings while allowing five runs and nine hits on July 1 and is 0-1 with an 8.20 ERA in four career starts against Kansas City.
Junis has won back-to-back starts and five consecutive decisions. The 24-year-old rookie is 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA with 18 strikeouts against just one walk in 16 innings over his last three turns. Junis received a no-decision when he made his first major-league start against the Twins on May 21 when he gave up two runs and five hits over 4 2/3 innings.
1. Royals 3B Mike Moustakas (knee) is expected to miss his second consecutive start.
2. Minnesota LHP Hector Santiago (shoulder) is unlikely to pitch again this season after struggling in his sixth rehab start for Triple-A Rochester.
3. Kansas City SS Alcides Escobar, who is 14-for-33 over the past 10 games, is 4-for-9 with a homer and five RBIs against Berrios.
PREDICTION: Twins 8, Royals 2