Minnesota Twins (70-73) @ Kansas City Royals (62-80)
The Twins enter the final six series of the season looking to finish with a record better than .500 for the seventh straight campaign. They haven’t helped themselves out too much recently, they snapped a six-game losing streak on Sunday, winning the final game of their weekend series in Chicago. The Royals are currently riding a five-game losing streak of their own, which has been excruciating because they only need a single win to avoid another 100-loss season. The Royals lead the season series 8 to 7 so far. The Twins have a 33-38 record on the road, while the Royals have identical 31-40 records at home and on the road.
In the last series betwixt these two teams, the Twins managed to win two of four which was enough to keep the Royals from having a winning record in three straight months, something the Royals haven’t done since 1994. After that series, Baseball Prospectus calculated the Royals as still having a chance at the division title, although there is clearly some funny math going on there so I’m not sure that I trust it.
Royals Review is remembering (in two parts, one and two) Terrence Long’s 2005 season and Buddy Bell’s addiction to his presence in the lineup. Here’s the thing: Long appeared in 137 games that year and amassed a VORP of 6.7! If they’re still discussing this two years later, how long will Twins fans be discussing Nick Punto’s 2007 (already appeared in 133 games with a -28.0 VORP)?
Pitching matchups for the series begin with Boof Bonser against Billy Buckner. First of all, it’s not that Billy Buckner. His full name is William Jennings Buckner, but if we go with Billy, we can pair him with Boof Bonser and have fun with alliteration. Unfortunately, I already did that last time with Brian Bannister and Boof Bonser, so instead, let’s look at the Twins record against alliterative starters (with same first letter in first and last names). The Twins have played 10 games against starters like this and have scored 5.30 runs per nine innings (opposed to 4.62 against everyone else). The list consists of Brian Bannister, Chris Capuano, Josh Johnson, Mike Maroth, Mike Mussina, and Virgil Vasquez. Buckner looks to be a part of the rotation next season, and he made his first major league start last Tuesday against Texas, he allowed six runs in four innings. Boof makes his sixth(!) start against the Royals this season, he’s been pretty average against them posting a 4.91 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in his previous five starts.
Tuesday brings Scott Baker vs. Kyle Davies. Both of these starters had their best start of the season against their opponent this series. Scott Baker’s near-perfect gem combined with his other start against the Royals (8 innings, 1 run) has to have him looking forward to this one. Kyle Davies makes his fourth start against the Twins. There are 13 pitchers the Twins have faced three times or more, and Davies falls right in the middle of the pack.
The finale will pit Carlos Silva against Gil Meche, who has been the Simpsons movie of the Royals rotation.