Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins
When and Where: Thursday, Sept. 19, Target Field, Minneapolis, Minn., 7:40 p.m. EDT.
The Minnesota Twins try again to take another step closer to their first division title in nine years Thursday night when they begin a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals.
Royals need late surge to avoid back-to-back 100-loss seasons
Kansas City (56-97) needs to win seven of its final nine games to avoid back-to-back 100-loss seasons for the first time since doing it three straight years from 2004-06. The Royals dropped the final two games of their three-game set in Oakland despite giving up just three runs after a 1-0, 11-inning defeat Wednesday.
Mike Montgomery (2-7, 4.23 ERA) hopes Kansas City’s bats will perk up as he bids to end a personal four-game losing streak. The left-hander has been backed with just six runs during a five-start winless run and was on the short end of a 6-1 scoreline against Houston on Saturday after yielding two runs in five innings.
— FOX Sports Kansas City (@FSKansasCity) September 15, 2019
Montgomery has not faced the Twins since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 15 and is 1-4 with a 6.55 ERA in five road starts with Kansas City. The southpaw labored to a win over Minnesota last year, giving up five runs in five innings of a 10-6 victory.
Kansas City has scored just 12 runs in its last six games, with half of them coming in Monday’s win over the Athletics.
Twins enter series with magic number for clinching AL Central at 7
The Twins (93-59) still have a comfortable 4 1/2-game lead over the Cleveland Indians atop the AL Central with 10 to play — all against the worst two teams in the division as they face the Royals seven times around a three-game set at Detroit.
Minnesota was denied a sweep of the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday with a 3-1 loss as Eddie Rosario had two of the team’s three hits and drove in the lone run.
Kyle Gibson (13-7, 4.76) makes his second start and third bid for a career-high 14th victory as he takes the ball in the series opener. The right-hander came out of the bullpen for the second time this season Sunday and served up a three-run homer in Minnesota’s 7-5 loss to Cleveland.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is trying to find a potential postseason spot for Gibson, who has endured a difficult year with challenging injuries that included E. coli in spring training after doing missionary work in the offseason and about with ulcerative colitis earlier this month.
“I felt really good out there,” Gibson told the club’s official website. “I felt good warming up, felt good out on the mound. Sometimes when you get a little amped up, you can get out of your mechanics. I don’t really think that happened too much. I felt good, and see what happens in this next week and see what happens with my start day here and where that moves to.”
Gibson has won back-to-back starts versus the Royals this season after not getting a decision in the first matchup, holding Kansas City to three runs in 14 2-3 innings in a pair of home victories. The righty gave up three runs over 6 2-3 innings of an 11-3 romp in the most recent meeting Aug. 3.
He is 4-1 with a 3.89 ERA in his last 12 starts in this divisional rivalry, including 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA in five starts at home. Royals shortstop Adalbato Mondesi is 7 for 12 with a homer and three extra-base hits against Gibson.
The Royals are:
- 1-5 in their last six games vs. the Twins.
- 2-5 in Montgomery’s last seven starts following a loss in the previous game.
- 1-5 in Montgomery’s last six starts vs. above-.500 teams.
The Twins are:
- 16-5 in their last 21 during game 1 of a series.
- 19-7 in their last 26 home games vs. the Royals.
- 21-7 in their last 28 games vs. sub-.400 teams.