|Twins turn to Perez seeking sweep of Royals|
Left-hander Martin Perez will try to pick up his first victory in four starts as the Minnesota Twins go for a series sweep of the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis.
Perez (7-2, 3.97 ERA) last won on May 23 at the Los Angeles Angels, 16-7, capping a streak of six victories in seven starts. He received a no-decision in his last start on Tuesday after allowing four runs on six hits in five innings of a 6-5 win over Seattle.
Perez is 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA in three career starts against Kansas City. He will be opposed by right-hander Jakob Junis (4-6, 5.35) who is 0-1 with a 4.50 in five career starts against the Twins.
Minnesota, which swept a two-game series with the Royals earlier this season in Kansas City, improved to 4-0 against Kansas City with a 5-4 victory on Saturday night. Three of those wins have been by one run, and the other was a 2-0 victory on Friday.
The Royals, behind a 462-foot two-run homer by Jorge Soler and a 4-for-5 night from Whit Merrifield that included a solo homer, jumped out to a 4-1 lead against Jake Odorizzi before the Twins rallied to win it on C.J. Cron's RBI double off the left field fence in the sixth, which drove in Eddie Rosario with what turned out to be the game-winning run.
"That's just how it's been all year," Cron said. "It seems like no matter how many runs we're down ... we're confident in our offense to get it back. Tonight was another example of that."
The victory put the Twins, who have the best record in the major leagues at 47-22, 25 games over .500, the earliest in team history for that to happen.
"It's just a fun team to be a part of," Cron said. "We all enjoy each other's company. It's a great atmosphere every day. It's fun coming to the yard, and any time you're having a good time, it seems like winning baseball games is a little bit easier. We've got these two, and hopefully we can get the sweep tomorrow."
Marwin Gonzalez had two hits, including a two-run homer, to help spark Saturday night's comeback, but it was his do-or-die diving catch on a sinking liner in shallow right by Billy Hamilton leading off the ninth that was the play of the game. Hamilton, one of the fastest players in the majors, likely would have circled the bases if the ball had gotten past Gonzalez.
"He had him played perfectly and made a great play," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. "Billy just smoked that ball."
"Obviously it's an extraordinarily important play in the game," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "It's pretty gutsy.
"You can say a lot of different things about it. If he goes after the ball and it gets by him, it's a tough situation for us obviously. Maybe the fastest player to play baseball in the last 20 years is running around the bases, there's not much we can do it about it at that point. If he lets it fall in front of him, that guy being out on the base paths is not a great outcome either.
"And (Gonzalez) made a decision. And he made a great play. That was a tremendous instinctual play, a very difficult play. ... He made a great athletic play."
Minnesota, which has won three straight games and five of its last six, improved to 23-10 at Target Field with Saturday's victory, while Kansas City dropped to 8-25 on the road, the worst mark in the majors.
--Field Level Media