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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, July 20th (All times eastern)
Minnesota Twins (38-54) at Kansas City Royals (39-52), 8:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Minnesota - Nick Blackburn (4-5, 8.10) Kansas City - Luke Hochevar (6-8, 5.16)
(Sports Network) - Former No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochevar can continue a recent run of success tonight when his Kansas City Royals host the Minnesota Twins in the opener of a three-game weekend series at Kauffman Stadium.
The top pick in the 2006 draft out of the University of Tennessee, Hochevar began this season with just three wins in his initial 10 decisions but has since won three of four across his last five starts.
The resurgence began with a 2-0 win in Houston on June 19, which was followed six days later with an 8-0 blanking of Tampa Bay. In those two games, Hochevar allowed 12 hits and struck out 14 in 16 2/3 innings - including his fourth career complete game in the defeat of the Rays.
He dropped a 5-1 verdict at Minnesota on June 30, but is 1-0 in two starts since while giving up five runs on nine hits in 10 innings.
Lifetime against the Twins, he's 4-4 in 13 appearances with a 5.14 earned run average.
Minnesota starts 30-year-old Nick Blackburn, who'd won five straight decisions between May 11 and June 22 before a June 27 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
The Oklahoma native and former 29th-round draft pick defeated Kansas City, 4-2, on June 6 at Kauffman Stadium, evening his career record against the Royals at 3-3 after allowing two runs on five hits in five innings.
In his final start before the All-Star break, Blackburn was touched for six runs on eight hits in four innings of Minnesota's 8-6 win at Detroit.
He's 2-2 in six road starts in 2012 with an 8.36 ERA.
On Thursday in Minnesota, Mark Reynolds' two-run single in the eighth inning lifted the Baltimore Orioles to a 4-3 win over the Twins in the finale of a four-game set at Target Field.
Josh Willingham, Trevor Plouffe and Alexi Casilla each drove in a run for the Twins, who have dropped five of seven since the All-Star break.
Alex Burnett (3-3) was pegged with the loss after allowing two runs in the eighth. He walked Matt Wieters and Wilson Betemit before being replaced by Tyler Robertson.
Cole De Vries started for Minnesota and gave up just one run on five hits while striking out five in six innings of work.
"I felt like I got out of one or two situations, I felt good," De Vries said. "I felt in control of the game, and it was one of those days I felt I needed to make a good pitch or a big pitch and I was able to do that. That's what the games all about, execution."
In Kansas City, Jesus Montero finished 3-for-4 with a solo home run and four RBI to lead Seattle over the Royals, 6-1, in the finale of a four-game set.
Eric Hosmer hit safely twice and Chris Getz knocked in the lone run for the Royals, who have dropped eight of 10 overall.
Recalled from Triple-A Omaha, Will Smith (1-3) allowed four runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings for the loss.
The Twins won six of the first nine games between the teams in 2012, across three series. Kansas City has not won the season series since 2003.
07/20 10:23:18 ET
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