Minnesota Twins series preview: Twins open homestand against Kansas City

The Minnesota Twins will open a big homestand with a weekend series against the Kansas City Royals, who have been pesky for the Twins this season.

While the end of the Minnesota Twins’ seven-game road trip left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, it’s hard not to call it a success by the way the Twins played. After taking three-of-four games in Chicago and two-of-three games in Miami, the Twins are doing what they’re supposed to do during this softened stretch of the schedule and now return home for a 10-game homestand beginning this weekend.

Their first opponent during the stretch will be the Kansas City Royals. Although the Royals sit fourth in the American League Central and 27 games back of the Twins, this still is an important series due to the recent performance of the Cleveland Indians.

As the Indians have chipped away at the Twins once-massive lead in the division, they have utilized a stretch against some of the worst teams in the American League to chop an advantage that once sat at 11 1/2 games down to three. As Cleveland’s schedule becomes tougher, these are the games that the Twins need to win if they want to capture their first division title since 2010.

About the Twins

There’s a lot to be said about the Twins in recent days as there was plenty of buzz off the field. With the Twins looking for bullpen arms before the trade deadline (and rumors of a big splash), fans were disappointed when all Minnesota could come up with was Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson. While the haul was disappointing, it did address the Twins’ biggest need as they head into the final two months of the season.

Throwing out Dyson’s disastrous debut on Thursday (which came mere hours of stepping off a cross-country flight), the Twins played as they should against a bad team against the Miami Marlins. Utilizing their power and taking advantage of Miami’s young pitching staff, the Twins played like a team that should have swept their opponent outside of one bad inning.

With the Twins playing just as well in Chicago, they’ll appreciate the chance to go home and take a swing at the Royals. Minnesota is 6-3 against Kansas City so far this season, but the Royals have been a thorn in their side thanks to some close games. Despite Kansas City’s pluckiness, the Twins will need to buckle down and win the games they’re supposed to win from here on out.

About the Royals

Kansas City’s record of 40-70 this year is pretty dismal, but it doesn’t mention the fact that the Royals have plenty of bats that can hurt you. Adalberto Mondesi brings tremendous speed to the Royals lineup and the emergence of power bats Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler also bring an element that some didn’t expect to see at the beginning of the season.

The rest of the roster reveals a team that is simply looking with its eyes to the 2019 season. The Royals traded Homer Bailey, Jake Diekman and Martin Maldonado at the trade deadline. With the Royals getting minor league talent in return, the message for Kansas City remains the same to do the job at the major league level to pave a foundation for success.

Pitching Probables

Friday 7:10 p.m. CT: Glenn Sparkman (3-7, 5.25 ERA) vs. Martin Perez (8-4, 4.38 ERA)
Saturday 6:10 p.m. CT: Danny Duffy (5-5, 4.42 ERA) vs. Kyle Gibson (10-4, 4.10 ERA)
Sunday 1:10 p.m. CT: Brad Keller (7-10, 4.01 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (12-5, 3.73 ERA)

None of the three pitching matchups will be confused for pitching duels, but the performance of the Twins’ starting rotation has been brought into the spotlight with the front office declining to make a major move. Out of the three, Perez might have the most to prove with a 5.32 ERA in the month of July.

Gibson will also have a bit to prove even though he turned in a solid performance against the White Sox on Sunday afternoon. His biggest weakness continues to be the big inning and in his last start against Kansas City on June 14, Gibson had his best start of the season, allowing just two hits in eight innings in a 2-0 victory.

Next: Dyson's debut was a dud as Twins fall to Marlins

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Odorizzi will cap off the weekend looking to build off his last start in Miami, where he only went 5 2/3 innings, but allowed one run. The Twins would probably like to see Odorizzi get deeper into the game, but he’s 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA against the Royals this season.