When a team riding a nine-game losing streak hosts a team that has lost 15 of its past 26, no one is entering the series with a lot of confidence.
That’s the case Friday as the Kansas City Royals welcome the Minnesota Twins to Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals, the club with the nine-game losing streak, won the first game of their recent trip in New York before losing two in a row to the Yankees, three to the Texas Rangers and four straight to the Boston Red Sox.
Manager Mike Matheny was asked Thursday, after the Royals finished the trip with a 15-1 shellacking in Boston, if he’s worried that his team won’t be ready to play the Twins.
“Always, every day,” Matheny said. “Individually and as a group, those conversations are always ongoing. What are they thinking about themselves and how we’re going about playing the game? Those are the most important conversations we can have.
“The most important thing we can do is continue to give honest feedback on days like today when the result isn’t right but the process is. The most important thing is how this group responds, pitch by pitch and game by game.”
The pitching has been bad for the Royals this season, but their offense has not been much better.
The Royals have the second-worst team ERA (5.05) and have scored the second-fewest runs in the American League (327, or 4.09 per game).
Matheny will look to right-hander Brady Singer (3-6, 4.70 ERA) to start the homestand on a good note. Singer has plenty of strikeout potential, with 81 in 76 2/3 innings. But he also has been wild, with 33 walks. That has led to a WHIP of 1.49.
Against the Twins in 2021, he has given up three earned runs in 7 2/3 innings and is 0-2. He’s 1-4 with a 4.84 ERA in five career starts against Minnesota.
The Twins are 5-5 in their past 10 games, but a three-game sweep by the White Sox in Chicago has the Twins reeling again.
Pitching clearly was the problem for the Twins in Chicago. Opening-day starter Kenta Maeda gave up seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings Tuesday. Matt Shoemaker allowed eight runs in 2 2/3 innings of relief on Wednesday, earning him a designation for assignment. Thursday’s culprit was Jose Berrios, who allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings, with an uncharacteristic zero strikeouts.
“It was a rough series,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Thursday. “They made it a rough series on us. They had excellent at-bats, and they stayed disciplined in their approach, regardless what we threw at them.
“We threw a lot of pitches today, and we didn’t miss many bats. But we gave it everything we had. We just clearly didn’t have enough for these guys.”
The Twins will look to left-hander J.A. Happ (4-3, 5.83) to right the ship. Happ has been inconsistent this season. He won his first two decisions, lost his next two and has alternated since. He owns a 1-0 record in two starts against the Royals this year, but he hasn’t been crisp against the AL Central opponent. He allowed seven runs on 12 hits in 10 innings combined.
He’s 6-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 11 career starts against the Royals.
–Field Level Media