Right-hander Pablo Lopez will try to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season when the Minnesota Twins attempt to complete a three-game series sweep of the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night in Minneapolis
Lopez (4-5, 4.24 ERA) is 2-0 with a 4.76 ERA in two starts against the Royals this season. He comes in off one of his best starts of the 2023 campaign, an 8-1 victory at Baltimore on Friday when he held the Orioles to one run on three hits over six innings. He struck out six and walked three
That was also the first game after Minnesota held a players-only meeting following a three-game road sweep at the hands of the Braves. The Twins, who scored a total of three runs in the losses at Atlanta, have bounced back to win four of five games while scoring 27 runs
Minnesota has won eight of nine meetings against Kansas City this season, including 8-4 and 9-3 victories in the first two games of the current series.
Max Kepler led the way in the Tuesday afternoon win with a season-high four RBIs, including a three-run homer into the bullpen in left-center off Kansas City starter Zack Greinke. Donovan Solano had a homer and two doubles and scored three times and Byron Buxton went 3-for-4 with a homer, a stolen base and three runs.
Kepler, who also had an RBI single, has had multiple hits in four of his past five games while driving in seven runs.
“We know the type of ability this guy has,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s playing a real right field (defensively) now, too.
“We’re seeing a lot of very positive things from him, and (also) getting different parts of the lineup engaged and producing like this. It means everything. That’s when you start putting runs on the board and bigger numbers.”
Kenta Maeda, making his third start after missing two months with a triceps injury, picked up his first win at Target Field since Aug. 14, 2021, on Tuesday. He limited the Royals to two runs (one earned) on three hits over seven innings, with one walk and nine strikeouts
“This was what we hope to see when you know you have a guy who was second in the Cy Young (voting) a couple years ago come back,” Baldelli said. “That’s second in the league Cy Young type of stuff. That’s the kind of guy we know.”
Right-hander Alec Marsh (0-1, 11.25 ERA) will make his second major league start for the rebuilding Royals, who have won just 12 of their 42 road games. Kansas City has dropped six of its past nine games overall
Marsh, the 70th pick of the 2019 draft out of Arizona State, had a 2.40 ERA in three starts at Triple-A Omaha before being called up to make his major league debut on Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed five runs on six hits, including a pair of home runs by Mookie Betts, over four-plus innings in a 9-3 loss. He walked four and struck out five.
“The adrenaline definitely hit me out there, but I tried to control it as much as I (could),” Marsh said. “Facing that kind of lineup, definitely better than any I’ve ever faced before. After tonight, I’m excited to get back to work.”
Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said, “He didn’t back down from anybody. He lost the zone a little bit at times, but he came after them.”
Greinke (1-9) took the loss on Tuesday after yielding six runs on seven hits. He left after 5 1/3 innings with what Quatraro termed as “very, very mild right shoulder discomfort.”
The manager added, “We’ll see where we land (Wednesday), but not anything overly concerning.”
–Field Level Media