Kansas City Royals (67-54) at Minnesota Twins (54-66), 7:10 p.m. (ET)
08/16/2014 9:58 AM
08/16/2014 10:00 AM
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas City Royals recently finished up a series in which they took three out of four games against the top team in the American League, and now they'll try for the same outcome against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Saturday's matchup will be the second in a four-game series with Minnesota, and will feature a pair of strong pitchers on the mound.
Yordano Ventura gets the starting nod for Kansas City. Ventura enters the game with a 9-8 record and a 3.45 earned run average. He's struck out 115 batters in 23 appearances this season to just 44 walks.
Ventura has had a strong stretch dating from the end of July to this point in August. In his last four starts, Ventura is 2-0 and hasn't surrendered more than three earned runs, including against the Twins back on July 31.
His most recent outing came against Oakland on Monday, when he allowed two earned runs on two hits in six innings of work. He struck out five, walked four and was tagged with a no-decision. In two starts against Minnesota in his career, Ventura is 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA.
Phil Hughes will be called upon by Minnesota to make the start against Kansas City. Hughes has been impressive this season for the Twins, registering a 12-8 record with a 3.88 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 150-plus innings pitched. What's possibly more impressive is the fact that he's walked just 15 batters in that span.
After suffering through a three-game skid in July, Hughes is back on track having won his last two appearances. His most recent start - a seven-inning effort against Oakland - showed off the 28-year-old's command. Hughes gave up just one run on four hits, struck out seven and walked just one batter in a 6-1 Minnesota victory.
In 11 games and 10 starts against the Royals, Hughes is 6-3 with a not-so- impressive 5.63 ERA. Kansas City batters have hit .295 against the righty in his career.
The Twins made a valiant effort to come back from a 6-3 Kansas City lead late in Friday's ballgame, but fell just short as the Royals escaped with a 6-5 victory at Target Field. Danny Duffy was handed the win after lasting 5 1/3 innings and giving up six hits, three runs (two earned) and striking out one.
Minnesota took an early 2-0 advantage after a KC throwing error and a Brian Dozier groundout in the third innings. But the Royals didn't let the lead last long, as Josh Willingham doubled to score three and Alcides Escobar tripled to plate two more in the fourth inning. It was a lead Kansas City would not relinquish.
"I knew it was going to be a little strange playing against your former team," Willingham said. "I'm just happy we won the game tonight." Willingham was traded from the Twins less than a week ago.
A 6-3 advantage in the ninth would turn into a 6-5 one for the Royals, who scraped by for the win. In 13 meetings this season, Kansas City now owns a slight 7-6 advantage over Minnesota.
The Royals have won 11 of their last 12 games played.
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