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Twins’ Devin Smeltzer looks to continue success against Royals

Sportsnaut
May 20, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Devin Smeltzer (31) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Just four days removed from a three-game sweep in Kansas City, the Minnesota Twins will host the Royals Thursday evening in the first game of a four-game series. The Twins saw their six-game winning streak snapped Wednesday, while the Royals have lost six straight.

The Royals will send LHP Daniel Lynch (2-3, 4.01 ERA) to the mound to face LHP Devin Smeltzer (1-0, 1.74 ERA). The matchup will be a repeat from the teams’ game May 20 in Kansas City.

The Twins had multiple opportunities to extend their streak to seven straight wins Wednesday. They allowed solo home runs to Harold Castro in the sixth and eighth innings, the second one tying the game, but had runners on the corners in the bottom of the ninth with a chance to win.

Jeimer Candelerio hit a two-run home run in the top of the 10th for Detroit, but the Twins loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the inning. They could not score with two strikeouts and a foul popup.

The Royals had Wednesday off after playing 19 games in the previous 17 days without a day off.

The problem for the Royals has been pitching. The hitting, which struggled through April, has been a strong suit lately. They have scored at least four runs in six of their last seven games. They’ve averaged 4.7 runs per game in that stretch.

But the Royals now have the worst starting pitching ERA (4.96) and the worst bullpen ERA (4.86) in the American League. They rank 27th among starters and 29th among relievers in all of baseball. During the six-game losing streak, they have a combined ERA of 7.96, giving up at least six runs in each game.

The Royals have blown leads of six runs, four runs and three runs in their last three games.

Lynch will be tasked with reversing the trend. He’s been hot and cold in his seven starts. He has had three scoreless starts, but he has a 7.64 ERA in his other four starts. The most recent start was against the Twins, when he allowed four earned runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings. It took him 90 pitches to get that far.

“(Lynch) was having some trouble finishing tonight and there was a reason for that,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said after that game. “He had some tightness come up in his back and felt good enough to pitch, but it was something he had to work through. … We tried to help him figure out a way to get through it and he got better as he went.”

Smeltzer allowed just one run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings in his last start, a 6-4 victory over the Royals in the aforementioned series. He didn’t strike out any, but he got in front of most of the hitters he faced. He got 14 out of 20 first-pitch strikes.

“Smeltzer was excellent,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He is helping us win ballgames, which is all he cares about and all we care about. But he was efficient and did a really nice job.”

–Field Level Media