Minnesota right-hander Jake Odorizzi will try to take over the
major league lead in wins on Thursday night when the American
League Central-leading Twins open a four-game series at Kansas City.
Odorizzi (10-2, 2.24 ERA) enters the game tied with Lucas Giolito
of the White Sox for most wins in the big leagues. He’ll be opposed
by right-hander Glenn Sparkman (1-3, 4.01) in a sequel to a matchup
that took place in Minneapolis on Saturday, when the Twins won 5-4.
Odorizzi allowed seven hits, including home runs by Jorge Soler and
Whit Merrifield, and all four Royals runs in six innings. He walked
two and struck out seven in winning his 10th straight decision, the
longest winning streak by a Twins starter since Johan Santana set
the club record of 17 consecutive wins between July 17, 2004, and
April 26, 2005.
Still, by Odorizzi’s standards this season, it was one of his
poorer starts of the season. In eight previous starts entering that
contest, Odorizzi had allowed a total of four runs and had six
games in which he didn’t allow a run.
“When you’re throwing the ball as well as he’s thrown the ball for
so many starts, it feels like anything but six or seven innings
with no runs, there’s something to talk about,” Minnesota manager
Rocco Baldelli said afterward. “For me, there’s nothing to talk
about. I thought he threw the ball well and battled through making
those pitches that maybe he didn’t want to make and figuring it out
and getting us to the middle of the game.”
Minnesota has won 11 consecutive games started by Odorizzi. He
hasn’t lost a decision since April 10, when he allowed three runs
on one hit and four walks in 4 2/3 innings of a 9-6 loss to the New
Odorizzi, who also leads the AL in ERA, is just 3-4 with a 4.56 ERA
in 10 career games (nine starts) against Kansas City. He is just
1-2 with a 5.91 ERA in four starts at Kauffman Stadium.
Sparkman is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five career games (one start)
against Minnesota. He gave up all five runs (four earned) in
Saturday’s loss at Target Field, allowing five hits and two walks
in five-plus innings while striking out three.
The Twins come into the game having lost three of their last four
games, including a 9-4 defeat at home to the Boston Red Sox on
Wednesday night. The lone win during that span was 4-3 in 17
innings over the defending World Series champions on Tuesday in a
game that lasted 5 hours, 45 minutes.
Kansas City is 1-4 against Minnesota this season and was swept in a
two-game series at Kauffman Stadium on April 2-3. However, three of
the four losses were by one run.
The Royals had a season-high-tying, three-game winning streak
snapped Wednesday afternoon at Seattle. The Mariners won 8-2 after
Kansas City starter Brad Keller allowed a season-high seven runs on
nine hits in four innings, including four runs in the first inning.
“It just felt like I really didn’t have anything behind the
fastball today,” Keller said. “It’s not a good feeling when you’re
going into a start like that.”
Minnesota enters the contest with the best road record in baseball,
24-12, while the Royals are just 14-23 at home.