Royals begin series with Twins
(SportsNetwork.com) - Having passed the midway point of their season, the Kansas City Royals head to Target Field on Monday night to begin a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins.
At 42-39, the Royals have recorded their most wins at the halfway point in 11 years since the 2003 club began that year 43-38. Kansas City, which has not been to the playoffs since 1985, entered Friday all alone in second place in the American League Central, 3 1/2 games behind Detroit.
The Royals took two of three from the red-hot Angels over the weekend, as the offense plated 15 runs for the series. Omar Infante, who delivered a grand slam in Friday's 8-6 win, went 3-for-5 including the walk-off single in Sunday's 5-4 triumph to help clinch the series and snap the Halos' six-game win streak.
"It's kind of like we've been both off and on. We play really good and then we go in a little slump," left fielder Alex Gordon said. "Hopefully, in the second half, we can be more consistent and continue that from past years."
The Royals now begin a nine-game road trip, which also includes stops in Cleveland and Tampa Bay.
Minnesota is back home after a six-game road swing. The only victory on the trip came in Sunday's series finale against Texas, as the Twins claimed a 3-2 decision. It was their first road victory in 10 tries.
Kendrys Morales drove in the deciding run with a go-ahead double in the top of the ninth to lock up the win for starter Kyle Gibson, who went eight innings and allowed two earned runs. Joe Mauer added a two-out RBI in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games.
Taking the hill for Kansas City in Monday's opener is Danny Duffy, who has posted a 2.76 ERA since sliding into the rotation at the beginning of May. The left-hander gave up just one run in six innings against the Dodgers his last time out, but he took the loss as the offense was shut out.
"He didn't have his best stuff, he wasn't sharp and yet he found a way to get us through six innings with just one run scored against him," manager Ned Yost said. "I thought it was a great job."
For Minnesota, 30-year-old journeyman Yohan Pino makes his third big league start. He was optioned to Triple-A on Thursday but then got called back up on Friday when infielder Danny Santana was placed on the disabled list.
Pino held the Chicago White Sox to two runs in seven innings on his June 19 debut, only to follow that up with a rough outing in Anaheim as he gave up five earned runs on seven hits and lasted only three innings.
"I just missed a couple pitches with two strikes, and that was my problem," Pino said. "I left a couple pitches up in the zone and they got hits. My changeup wasn't every good. I just have to keep working. I have another start and hopefully I do better."
Minnesota has won four of six head-to-head meetings with the Royals this season.
06/30 10:40:27 ET