If familiarity really does breed contempt, the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals ought to be building up a pretty good dislike for each other by now.
For the third straight weekend, the two clubs will face each other, beginning with a matchup Friday night. The Royals swept a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium Aug. 7-9. The Twins took three of four in a return engagement at Target Field Aug. 14-17. The final series of the season between the two clubs will be back in Kansas City.
The Royals split a doubleheader Wednesday against the Reds before taking Thursday off. The Twins defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 7-1 at Target Field on Thursday before traveling to Kansas City.
Pitching played a key role in the seven games between the two clubs so far. In all but one game, a 9-6 Kansas City victory Aug. 8, the winning team scored three or four runs. Three of the four games in Minnesota ended with 4-2 scores, and the fourth was a 4-1 Twins victory.
Both starting pitchers will face the same opponent they faced in their last start. Twins starter Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will oppose the Royals for the third straight start. Odorizzi struggled in his season debut Aug. 8 after coming off the 10-day Injured List with a right intercostal strain suffered toward the end of summer camp. He gave up two runs on four hits in just three innings. But in his next start, Aug. 15 in the first game of a doubleheader, he retired the first 11 batters he faced.
“I’ve still got a little ways to go,” Odorizzi said after that start. “Today was definitely a big step in the right direction. I felt relatively normal. A few things to iron out a little bit, but relatively speaking, I think today was a very positive step and there’s still a little work to be done, but I definitely felt more like my last year’s self.”
Danny Duffy (1-2, 4.44 ERA) pitched one of his best games of the season in the second game of that doubleheader, the Royals’ lone victory in Minnesota. Duffy went five innings, giving up two runs (one earned) and striking out eight. It was especially helpful, considering the Royals had to use five pitchers in six innings in the first game of the twin bill.
“We needed that from Duff right there,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said. “We needed him to get through five. He really showed us something there to get through that last inning.”
Duffy retired 15 of the final 17 batters he faced.
“I missed my spot on a lot of heaters,” Duffy said. “But I had some punch behind that fastball, and I could get away with some mistakes.”
Duffy won’t have to face two starters in the Twins lineup. Center fielder Byron Buxton (left shoulder inflammation) and catcher Mitch Garver (right intercostal strain) were placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday.
The additional injuries will challenge Minnesota’s roster depth. Josh Donaldson has already been on the 10-day injured list for most of August with a right calf strain, and Luis Arraez missed his second straight game on Thursday with soreness in his left knee.
Pregame begins at 6:30, with game time at 7:05. You can listen to the broadcast from the Royals’ Radio Network on KMMO FM 102.9.