THE STORY: The Minnesota Twins are trying to escape the AL Central cellar and the Kansas City Royals are looking to keep them there. The two worst teams in the division square off in a two-game series starting Tuesday night inKansas City. Recent history favors the Twins, who have won seven of the last eight meetings between the teams and eight of 13 overall this season. Minnesota sends Carl Pavano to the mound to oppose Royals lefthander Bruce Chen.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, FSNO, FSKC
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Carl Pavano (8-11, 4.52 ERA) vs. Royals LH Bruce Chen (10-7, 4.30 ERA).
Pavano won his second straight start last time out even though he wasn’t particularly sharp, allowing three runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. It marked the first time he failed to get through six innings since July 31. Pavano is 8-6 with a 5.90 ERA in 16 appearances (15 starts) against the Royals. Billy Butler is batting .452 (19-for-52) with two homers against him.
Chen has lost back-to-back starts following a five-game winning streak. He allowed five earned runs on eight hits in each of his last two outings. The Twins have been a nightmare for Chen, who is 1-4 with a 6.59 ERA in 15 appearances (five starts) against them. He’s also served up nine homers in 42 1/3 innings. Danny Valencia is 7-for-12 and Mike Cuddyer 4-for-8 with a homer against him.
ABOUT THE TWINS (59-87): Minnesota’s offensive doldrums continued during its three-game sweep in Detroit. The Twins scored seven runs in the series and have been held to two runs or fewer six times in their last eight games. In its last 21 games, Minnesota has been held to one run or shut out a mind-boggling 12 times. One of the few players to produce of late is Chris Parmelee, who has a hit in all five games since his promotion from the minors and is batting .353 (6-for-17).
ABOUT THE ROYALS (62-86): Kansas City won its final two games against Seattle to gain a split of the four-game series. The Royals have struggled at the plate in the last five games, pushing across only 10 runs. That followed a stretch in which they had amassed 44 runs in their previous six games. Alex Gordon was 5-for-14 with a homer, three doubles and four RBIs in the last three games in Seattle. Rookie Eric Hosmer has hit in four straight and eight of his last nine.
FINAL PITCH: Minnesota, which has won the AL Central the past two seasons, hasn’t finished in the cellar since the 2000 season. The Royals have finished at the bottom six of the last seven seasons.