It’s the conclusion of a weekend set between a pair of AL Central opponents on the diamond in the Midwest. The Minnesota Twins (24-16) are on the road as they finish up a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals (14-25) Sunday afternoon. In the opening game of the series Friday night, the Twins jumped out in front early and held on for a 6-4 victory to set themselves up for a potential series win regardless of the action in the middle game of the set. This article was published prior to the conclusion of the middle game of the series at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday night.
Minnesota Twins Looking to Pad AL Central LeadMinnesota won their second straight and their fourth in the last five games as they won the opening game of this series Friday night. The Twins entered Saturday holding a 3.5-game advantage over the White Sox for the top spot in the AL Central picture. Jose Miranda (run, two RBI) and Gilberto Celestino each had two hits for the Twins in the contest while Kyle Garlick knocked in a pair of runs as well. Devin Smeltzer (1-0) earned the win on the mound as he threw 5.1 innings, allowing one run on five hits with one walk and no strikeouts. Emilio Pagan earned his sixth save despite allowing one run on three hits with one walk and one strikeout in one inning of relief.
Bailey Ober is on the mound for the Twins as he makes his fifth start of the season in this contest. He comes in 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, five walks and 16 strikeouts over 19.2 innings of action on the year. Ober didn’t factor in the decision in his last start, which came at home against the Tigers back on April 28. He threw 3.2 innings, allowing one run on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts in a game the Twins went on to win 7-1. In his last three starts, Ober is 0-1 with a 1.23 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP, three walks and 12 strikeouts over 14.2 innings of work. Ober makes his third career start against the Royals in this contest. He comes in with no record, a 4.32 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, no walks and 10 strikeouts over 8.2 innings of work. Ober didn’t factor in the decision in his lone career start at Kauffman Stadium, which came on June 6, 2021. He threw four innings, allowing one run on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts in a game the Twins eventually won by a 2-1 count.
Kansas City Royals Trying to Earn Some Positive MomentumKansas City dropped their second straight and their fourth in the last six games as they were unable to complete a comeback in the opening game of the set Friday night. The Royals entered Saturday’s action fourth in the AL Central, 8.5 games behind the Twins for the top spot in the division race. In Friday’s contest, Kansas City trailed 3-0 after half an inning and couldn’t mount a comeback. Whit Merrifield (run, RBI), MJ Melendez, Emmanuel Rivera (two runs, RBI) and Kyle Isbel each had two hits in a losing effort. Carlos Santana (his second) and Rivera (his second) each went deep in the loss. Daniel Lynch (2-3) took the loss on the mound as he allowed four runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts over 3.2 innings of work. The Royals had the tying run on base and the winning run at the plate in the ninth before Andrew Benintendi fanned looking to end it.
Jonathan Heasley takes the hill for his third start of the season for the Royals in this contest. He comes in 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA, a 1.80 WHIP, seven walks and two strikeouts over 8.1 innings of work this season. Heasley took the loss in his last start, which came against the White Sox Tuesday afternoon in the first game of a doubleheader. He threw five innings, allowing three runs on four hits with three walks and one strikeout in a 3-0 Royals loss. Heasley beat the Twins in his lone career start against them, which came at home on October 1, 2021. He threw 5.1 innings, allowing four runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout in an 11-6 Royals victory. Heasley is 1-2 with a 6.91 ERA, a 1.395 WHIP, four walks and four strikeouts over 14.1 innings in three career starts at Kauffman Stadium.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Kansas City struggled in the opening game of this set as their inability to come up with clutch hits doomed them again. Benintendi had a 3-0 count in the bottom of the ninth only to strike out looking to end the game. Heasley was better in his second start of the year than he was in his first but that doesn’t move the needle all that much when you get down to brass tacks. Ober was pitching well before hitting the IL with a groin strain so he’ll look to build back up to that level of success. The Twins are the better team and with the way the Royals are (or aren’t) hitting, it’s tough to back them here. Take Minnesota as they win the finale to take the series.
Full-Game Total Pick
Minnesota went into Saturday having seen the under go 20-15-4 in their first 39 games. The Twins are 16th in runs per game with 4.15 runs per contest and they average 4.50 runs per game as the road team. That makes the average total for Minnesota games at 7.71 runs, with the road number increasing slightly to 8.17 runs a night. Kansas City comes into Saturday with the under having posted a 19-18-1 mark in their 38 contests. The Royals are 25th in the majors in runs per game as they put up an average of 3.61 runs a night this season. Kansas City is tied for 19th in runs per game at home as they average a paltry 2.76 runs a contest. Their average total this season is 8.48 runs per game, a number that falls to 7.28 runs per game at home. We saw 10 runs in the opening game of the series but it might be tough to get there in this one, especially if Ober can turn in another effective outing. With the wind looking to be blowing in somewhat, look for this game to end up under the total.