After going 7-12 against the Minnesota Twins last season, the Kansas City Royals still have not been able to figure out their American League Central rivals
The Royals are winless through their first four games against Minnesota in 2023, but Kansas City will have another chance to break through on Friday when it continues a four-game series against the Twins in Minneapolis
Losers of 11 of their last 13 games, the Royals struggled in the series opener on Thursday, falling 7-1
Vinnie Pasquantino provided Kansas City's lone run with a homer in the fourth, but back-to-back blasts from Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa in the home half of the inning carried Minnesota to its fourth victory in the past five games.
Offense against the Twins has been hard to come by all year for Royals, as Kansas City has mustered just five runs in the four games against Minnesota
Pasquantino will look to spark the Royals' lineup after extending his hitting streak to five games on Thursday. He is 8-for-21 (.381) with two home runs and two RBIs during that stretch
"He seems to do a really good job of compartmentalizing," Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said of Pasquantino. "He leaves the last at-bat behind him whether it was good or bad, and goes up there and competes in every pitch."
Right-hander Jordan Lyles (0-4, 4.88 ERA) will get the nod for the Royals after allowing four runs on four hits in six innings in his most recent outing, a loss against the Angels on Sunday. Lyles walked one and struck out five
In four career starts against the Twins, Lyles is 0-1 with a 3.13 ERA. He faced Minnesota back on April 1 and allowed just two runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings, but still took the loss
Fellow right-hander Pablo Lopez (1-2, 3.00) will oppose Lyles while attempting to break a personal two-game losing streak. His most recent setback came against Washington last Saturday, when he surrendered five runs on eight hits in four innings while walking two and fanning six.
Lopez is 1-1 with a 1.54 ERA in two starts against Kansas City in his career. He logged 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a win against the Royals on March 30 as the Twins' Opening Day starter
The Twins should have no problem backing Lopez, as they have scored at least six runs in each of their last four games. Buxton, who is batting .286 with three homers and seven RBIs over his last seven games, has been a huge reason for the recent success
"We feed off his energy, man," Correa said of what it's like having Buxton at the top of the order. "When he's going, his energy's unmatched across the league. He's such an impactful player, and that's contagious.
"Love having him on my team."
After seeing right-handers Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle exit their starts early due to arm soreness over the past two days, Minnesota has reinforcements on the way after activating Josh Winder from the 15-day injured list on Thursday.
Winder, 26, went 4-6 with a 4.70 ERA last season.
--Field Level Media