The Minnesota Twins dominated the Kansas City Royals in 2010, winning 13 of 18 matchups while scoring less than three runs only once.
Given Minnesota's struggles at the plate and Kansas City's solid start, the results may not be as lopsided in 2011.
The Twins hope to avoid a three-game losing streak Tuesday night against the Royals as the teams open a two-game set at Target Field.
Offensive struggles have been the main reason for Minnesota's rough start, as the Twins (3-6) have scored 24 runs in nine games and never more than five in a single contest.
Minnesota did not have a home run in 210 plate appearances until Jim Thome delivered Sunday in a 5-3 loss to Oakland. Justin Morneau went 3 for 4 - the first three-hit game by a Twins player this season.
Joe Mauer is hitting just .233, and four other starters - Thome (.167), Delmon Young (.188), Michael Cuddyer (.107) and Danny Valencia (.194) - are hitting less than .200
``You don't want to say it's just April because April games mean just as much as games in May, June and July,' Thome said. ``We've got a lot of good hitters. Everybody's really talented. We just need to get rockin' and rollin'.'
While the offense hopes to break out of its funk, starter Brian Duensing (0-0, 5.14 ERA) looks to continue his success against the Royals.
Duensing is 4-0 with a 3.33 ERA in 10 career appearances against Kansas City, seven coming in relief. In his three starts against the Royals, Duensing is 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA, allowing five runs over 19 innings.
Despite an 11-2 lifetime record against the AL Central, Duensing said he needs to remain even more focused against Kansas City.
"Teams like the Royals and Cleveland and Detroit, I feel like I'm always just one pitch away from getting blown up," Duensing told the team's official website. "Against those teams, I really have to try and focus harder, because I feel like those guys, for some reason, just put really good swings on everything. That's what kind of makes me nervous."
Duensing may have a valid concern given Kansas City's offensive showing Sunday.
The Royals (6-3) had a season-high 15 hits in a 9-5 victory against the Tigers. Wilson Betemit went 4 for 4 with two doubles, and each Kansas City starter hit safely.
Betemit is hitting .381 in six games and is 3 for 7 with one home run lifetime against Duensing.
``That was a great day - not only for me. The team played really hard,' Betemit said. ``We're starting good right now. We have to keep going.'
Billy Butler extended his eight-game hitting steak, and Alex Gordon is off to a solid start hitting .357. His nine career home runs and 21 RBIs versus the Twins are his most against any team.
Jeff Francis (0-0, 1.98 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals making his third start of the season. He's given up three earned runs over 13 2-3 innings.
Francis won his only career start against the Twins in 2008 while pitching for Colorado.
The Royals were 2-7 at Target Field last season.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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