Kansas City Royals look to secure wins against the Twins

DETROIT, MI - JUNE 29: Ramon Torres
DETROIT, MI - JUNE 29: Ramon Torres /

Every series seems to be the most important series for the Kansas City Royals as the season hangs on a knife blade. The next most important series starts tonight against the Minnesota Twins.

We’re not going to get into much banter about this series. As a Kansas City Royals fan, you know what’s at stake here. The Royals are hovering around .500. The Twins are just above .500. The Indians are poised to make a run, because they’re the defending AL champions and because this division has proven itself to be pretty mediocre for large parts of the season.

It’s a big series. Maybe the season’s biggest. Or at least the biggest since the last series. But the results of the next four games could determine the course of the following 81. Stay in contention and there’s still a case for buying at the deadline. Lose the series—or worse, get swept—and suddenly instead of fighting the Twins and Indians for first, the Kansas City Royals could find themselves battling the Tigers and White Sox to stay out of the cellar.

It could be great. It could be terrible. Here’s some Metallica, and let’s look ahead at this thing.

Game One: Jason Vargas (11-3, 2.29 ERA) vs. Ervin Santana (10-4, 2.80 ERA); 7:15 p.m. (CT), Friday; FSKC

This is a pitching matchup that, frankly, is too good for regional cable and probably too good for ESPN. The way Vargas and Santana have pitched in 2017, you could pay-per-view this for $5.99 and make a fortune.  

in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. On both sides, so many batters have struggled against Santana and Vargas that it’s notable who hasn’t; Eric Hosmer (.300, two homers in 20 at-bats vs. Santana) and Joe Mauer (.379, eight RBI in 29 at-bats against Vargas) may well determine the outcome here.

Watch If: You always wondered what the baseball equivalent of Brahms and Beethoven having a composition competition might be.

Game Two: Jason Hammel (4-6, 4.75 ERA) vs. Hector Santiago (4-7, 5.37 ERA); 1:15 p.m. (CT), Saturday; FSKC

Even though Hammel (2.51 ERA his last five starts) has found a groove, this is not exactly a sequel to Vargas-Santana (if it was, it would definitely be City Slickers II). And this may not even be the ultimate outcome; Hammel could get the nod instead for game two of the doubleheader.

Watch If: You’ve always wondered who Alcides Escobar can tear up; it’s Santiago, who he possesses a .370 career average against.

Game Three: TBD (likely Eric Skoglund) vs. Adalberto Mejia (3-3, 4.38 ERA); 7:35 p.m. (CT), Saturday; FSKC

Twins game notes had a fun spoiler (like there are now 31 days in June, for a start) but bet on seeing Skoglund for at least one of the day-night doubleheader.

Since I have nothing else to contribute, can we talk about what a great name ‘Adalberto’ is for a second? Was ‘Alberto’ a family name and his parents wanted to give it a little extra juice? Does he come from a line of Adalberto’s? I’m both intrigued and excited. Give answers in the comments if you’ve got ‘em.

Watch If: Game one of the doubleheader was a Kansas City Royals victory. I would hate to tell anyone to spend a Saturday watching a sweep.

Game Four: Matt Strahm (2-5, 5.61 ERA) vs. TBD; 1:15 p.m. (CT), Sunday; FSKC

I would honestly put TBD as a slight favorite over Strahm, who was a mild success as a long reliever and should probably run that back pretty soon.

Watch If: This is how you celebrate America.

Predictions Sure to be Wrong

In Game One: Jason Vargas sees Santana’s Dali and raises him a Picasso.

Game Two: Salvador Perez makes a friend.

Game Three: A sleep-deprived Eric Hosmer spends two innings in the Twins dugout.

Next: Sons of Statistical Anarchy

And Game Four: Brian Dozier and Whit Merrifield have a light-hearted discussion about best practices in meatloaf preparation.