Were it not for the Kansas City Royals, the
Minnesota Twins might not have been one of the more active sellers
ahead of this week’s trade deadline.
The Twins had won nine of their last 11 games heading into the
All-Star break and though they were still six games below .500 and
were within 7 1/2 games of the American League Central-leading
Cleveland Indians when they opened the second half at Kansas City
on July 20.
Any hope of catching the Indians disappeared quickly, though, as
the last-place Royals swept the Twins in convincing fashion. Though
the Twins won five of their next eight, the damage was done and
Minnesota started planning for the future.
“I don’t think anybody in here is going to give up,” right-hander
Kyle Gibson said. “We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to the guys
who got traded away. That was the one thing (Brian) Dozier told me
was, ‘Hey, don’t let these guys quit.'”
The Twins will get a chance for revenge Friday when they open a
three-game weekend series against the Royals at Target Field.
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi gets the start after having survived the
Twins’ purge. He’s looking to bounce back after posting a 4.44 ERA
in five July starts and is 2-4 with a 4.29 ERA in seven career
starts against the Royals.
Kansas City turns to rookie right-hander Heath Fillmyer for the
series opener. He allowed three runs in five innings against the
New York Yankees his last time out and is 0-1 with a 3.94 in three
big league starts.
Fillmyer will benefit from having newly-acquried Brett Phillis in
center field. Acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers a week ago in the
deal that sent Mike Moustakas to Milwaukee, Phillips has gotten off
to a good start with his new squad and has opened eyes with his
“I like what I see from that kid,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
He came up big for the Royals on Thursday at Chicago, making a
diving grab to rob Yolmer Sanchez of a bloop single and then made a
spot-on throw to the plate later in the game that caught Leury
Garcia trying to score.
“That’s what gets me the most pumped is when I throw a guy out,”
Phillips said. “It’s not a home run. It’s that. Because seeing the
look on a pitcher’s face, you saved him a run. That’s what it’s all
about, just helping those guys out on a daily basis.”
The throw clocked it at 100.1 mph — the hardest-thrown ball by a
Royals outfielder since MLB started tracking such numbers in 2015.
“(The numbers) show up on my phone,” Phillips admitted. “But it’s
not something I base my practices on. I just focus on good accurate
throws. If it’s got velocity on it, it’s fine. But if you throw 105
and if it flies into the stands, it doesn’t matter.”
The Royals are 8-6 since the All-Star break, including the
three-game sweep of the Twins, and are 9-3 against Minnesota but
just 1-2 at Target Field.