|5:15 PM PT6:15 PM MT7:15 PM CT8:15 PM ET20:15 ET0:15 GMT8:15 5:15 PM MST7:15 PM EST7:45 PM VEN4:15 UAE (+1)7:15 PM CT, September 14, 2018
Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri Attendance: 18,389
Twins won't have Garver against Royals
Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals
- The Twins took two of three from the Yankees to win their second consecutive series after having lost each of the previous five. Twins starting pitchers have not allowed more than a single earned run in five straight games, the club's longest such streak in a single season since 1988.
- Joe Mauer had two hits in the two wins over the Yankees, the 567th and 568th multi-hit games of his career, third most among active left-handed batters. Mauer has 248 career hits against Kansas City, tied with Victor Martinez for the second most all-time (most: Rod Carew -- 263).
- The Royals nearly swept the White Sox, losing 4-2 in 12 innings on Wednesday. Since August 28, Kansas City has had one series with each of its fellow AL Central teams and the Royals went 6-5 with their starters posting a 2.86 ERA and holding hitters to a .563 OPS in those games.
- Whit Merrifield has stolen two bases in each of his past two games, bringing him to 35 on the season, one more than he had last season and the most in the AL this season. He could become the first Royal to ever lead the league in stolen bases in back-to-back seasons.
- Thursday's game will feature two rookie starting pitchers who have struggled against the opposing team. RHP Heath Fillmyer has not pitched more than three innings in two starts versus the Twins, and LHP Stephen Gonsalves lasted only 2.1 innings in his only start versus the Royals.
- The Twins have won five of the last six games in this series, all in Minnesota, after the Royals won six of nine to start the season. Kansas City has seen its runs per game fall from 5.3 in the first nine games to 3.7 in the last six games and its slugging percentage go from .451 to .341, respectively.
Minnesota Twins catcher Mitch Garver will miss a few more games after taking a foul ball to his facemask Wednesday against the Yankees.
Garver passed baseball's concussion protocol but was not in the lineup Thursday night when the Twins opened a four-game series against the Royals in Kansas City. Manager Paul Molitor said Garver was making progress but isn't expected to play Friday night when the series continues at Kauffman Stadium.
"We're hoping to protect him in the short term just because of the blow that he took," Molitor said. "We'll try to get him in a little better place before we put him back in there. But so far, so good."
The team is taking a cautious approach with Garver's recovery because concussion symptoms sometimes don't appear for a day or two after the incident. He also took a blow to the head in August, when he was hit in the head on Manny Machado's backswing.
"He's got history, which is also a part of the equation," Molitor said. "We'll watch it closely."
The Twins fell to 10-29 on the road since June 16 with a 6-4 loss Thursday night. They've won one road series during that stretch.
They'll try to even the series Friday behind right-hander Jose Berrios (11-11, 3.83 ERA), who faces the Royals for a second straight start. He held Kansas City to a run and struck out five over six innings in that outing Saturday, but took the loss and is 0-3 over his last three starts.
The Royals' starting pitcher in that Saturday game was Jorge Lopez (2-4, 3.72), who will face Berrios and the Twins again Friday.
The right-hander flirted with history in that outing, becoming the first Royals pitcher to carry a perfect game into the ninth inning. Max Kepler spoiled Lopez's bid for perfection with a walk to lead off the ninth and Robbie Grossman followed with a base hit to center, breaking up the no-hitter.
"It's a dream come true," said Lopez, who still got the win. "I feel like we did everything offensively and defensively. ... I think my heart accelerated a little but it was just hard to finish. But it was good."
Berrios, who like Lopez is a native of Puerto Rico and played with him in the World Baseball Classic, said he enjoyed watching his countryman in his bid for history.
"Once I finished my six innings, it was nice to see," Berrios said. "It was fun to watch him, what he's doing out there, and it's a victory for Puerto Rico."
The Royals acquired Lopez from the Brewers in exchange for third baseman Mike Moustakas ahead of the trade deadline. Lopez went 0-3 with a 7.90 through his first three starts for the Royals but has allowed one run in each of his last two starts with 12 strikeouts in 15 innings.
"He threw the ball really well tonight, but he threw the ball just as well in his last start," Royals manager Ned Yost said after his near no-hitter. "I don't really see much different except we made some plays and he didn't give up a hit until the ninth inning. ... He wasn't getting the swings and misses, which is good, because that helps his pitch economy stay down. You're getting three- and four-pitch decisions, and it puts you in a position to go out in the ninth inning under 100 pitches."
That game was Lopez's first career start against the Twins.
Berrios is 2-2 with a 4.53 ERA in eight career starts against Kansas City, and he is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in three starts against the Royals this season.
Updated September 14, 2018