The Kansas City Royals finish a three game series against the Minnesota Twins this evening in Minneapolis. The Royals have already lost the season series with the Twins, but are trying to reverse their previous (and indeed usual) form against Minnesota and have made a good start by winning the first two games of the series. It means they have secured their first ever series win at Target Field (the last time the Royals won a series in Minnesota was in 2009 at the Metrodome) and can now go for their first three or four game sweep in Minnesota this century.
The Royals will attempt to do that with Luis Mendoza on the mound. Mendoza has had some excellent starts this year, but his consistency has been a bit lacking as he looks to establish himself in the rotation for next year. As with Hochevar pitching last night, Mendoza will need to minimise walks and keep the ball down. He will have a bit of leeway though; it looks like another chilly night in Minnesota so the ball will not carry very well. It’s been almost a full month since the last time Mendoza went more than five and a third innings in a start and he has not picked up a win since then. If he can keep the ball down and go deep into the game he’ll give the Royals a great chance to snap that streak.
The Royals have scored 19 runs in the first two games of the series and the man given the task of putting the brakes on that offence is Liam Hendriks. He is yet to get a win this year; he is 0-7 with an ERA over six in twelve starts over the course of the season and is averaging just barely over five innings per start. The Royals have actually faced him once already this season, during the double header on 1 September. He did not get through the fourth and conceded three runs on ten hits. The Royals will thus be quite confident of keeping their bats hot tonight and especially catcher Salvador Perez who enters with a 16-game hitting streak. That is the longest ever by a Royals catcher.
A Royal victory is a fair prediction for tonight. The Twins have struggled this year and are fighting to get out of last place whilst the Royals are fairly comfortable in third. But baseball is a funny game and despite the relative records of the Twins and Royals the former have had the Indian sign over the latter for most of this year and for a few before. Kansas City can certainly not afford to take anything for granted tonight.