Series: Game 1 of 4

Kansas City leads 1-0 (as of 8/15)

Game 1: Friday, August 15
Kansas City6Final
Game 2: Saturday, August 16
Kansas City1Final
Game 3: Sunday, August 17
Kansas City12Final
Game 4: Monday, August 18
Kansas City6Final

Royals 6

(67-54, 34-26 away)

Twins 5

(54-66, 25-31 home)

    8:10 PM ET, August 15, 2014

    Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

    123456789 R H E
    KC 000500010 6 12 2
    MIN 002100002 5 9 0

    W: D. Duffy (8-10)

    L: R. Nolasco (5-8)

    S: G. Holland (37)

    Royals-Twins Preview


    Danny Duffy has quietly turned into one of baseball's top starters. His recognition may grow now that he's getting offensive help and the Kansas City Royals keep winning.

    Duffy could win three consecutive starts for the first time if his recent mastery of the Minnesota Twins continues Friday night when the Royals open a nine-game trip against last-place clubs.

    Kansas City (66-54) has won 18 of 22 after completing a 6-1 homestand with Thursday's 7-3 win over Oakland.

    "I think every (starting) pitcher we faced on this homestand has been an All-Star and to take six out of seven is pretty good," manager Ned Yost said. "I'm happy with where we're at."

    Yost's club went 5-2 against the majors' top team in August after winning three of four from the A's this week, and now it faces three of the worst. The Royals seemingly have a good chance to pad their half-game lead atop the AL Central with four games in Minnesota followed by two at NL-worst Colorado and three against AL-worst Texas.

    Those three pitching staffs are at the bottom of the majors in opponent batting average -- the Twins (54-65) rank 28th at .275.

    Duffy's .192 mark since the beginning of June is fourth-best in baseball, and his 2.13 ERA in that span is sixth among AL starters. However, Duffy (7-10, 2.57 ERA) entered this month having won four times in 16 starts, greatly because the Royals provided just 23 runs of support.

    It's been a different story in August as the left-hander has received 18 runs in two outings and won both, yielding six hits in 11 2/3 innings.

    "The offense just keeps doing their job. It's been a lot of fun to watch," Duffy said after going 6 2/3 innings in Sunday's 7-4 win over San Francisco.

    Among those hitters doing their job are Billy Butler, batting .395 with nine RBIs in his last 11 games, and leadoff man Nori Aoki, hitting .357 with 11 runs and 11 RBIs in 13 games this month.

    Over the past calendar year, Duffy has faced Minnesota five times -- twice in relief -- and has allowed two runs in 22 1/3 innings while holding the Twins to a .171 average. Trevor Plouffe, Joe Mauer and Danny Santana are a combined 1 for 19 with nine strikeouts against Duffy, who enters his 50th major league start having never won more than two straight.

    Minnesota, coming off a 15-game stretch in which it played 13 on the road, is opening an 11-game homestand against the Central's top teams -- Kansas City, Cleveland and Detroit.

    "I think everybody is worn out and tired of travel," manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB's official website. "So a day off (Thursday), we regroup, get our rotation set up, and a nice, long homestand against teams in our division. Which is huge. It will be big baseball."

    Joe Mauer homered in Wednesday's 3-1 win in Houston and went 5 for 12 in that series, his first after missing six weeks with an oblique strain. He's riding a 15-game hitting streak, one off a career high.

    The player who hit behind Mauer for much of the past 2 1/2 years is now in the opposing dugout.

    Josh Willingham was traded to Kansas City on Monday, a day after he hit his 61st homer with the Twins. He's yet to homer for the Royals, going 2 for 10 in three games.

    He's 4 for 10 with two doubles off Ricky Nolasco (5-7, 5.90), who returns Friday after missing a month with elbow soreness. The right-hander, likely to be on an 80-85 pitch count, gave up six runs in two of his last three starts and has the worst ERA of his nine-year career.

    All three of Nolasco's lifetime starts against the Royals came this year and he won both in Minnesota, yielding two runs in 14 innings.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Gameday Matchup

     Kansas CityMinnesota
    Current StreakW1L1
    Last 106-45-5

    Pitching Matchup

    Kansas CityMinnesota
    D. Duffy
    9-12, 2.53 ERA

    Last Game:
    9/27 at CHW
    2.0 IP, 4 ER
    Dec = Loss
    R. Nolasco
    6-12, 5.38 ERA

    Last Game:
    9/27 at DET
    6.0 IP, 2 ER
    Dec = Win

    Gameday Lineups

    NO.Kansas CityMinnesota
    1. N. Aoki, RF D. Santana, CF
    2. O. Infante, 2B B. Dozier, 2B
    3. S. Perez, C J. Mauer, 1B
    4. B. Butler, 1B K. Vargas, DH
    5. A. Gordon, LF T. Plouffe, 3B
    6. J. Willingham, DH K. Suzuki, C
    7. M. Moustakas, 3B O. Arcia, RF
    8. A. Escobar, SS E. Escobar, SS
    9. J. Dyson, CF J. Schafer, LF