KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After completing a 9-2 homestand before the All-Star break, the Minnesota Twins faced a schedule with their next 10 games on the road.
The first three of those are in Kansas City, which went into the break with a major league-worst 27-68 record.
The Twins, however, will need a victory Saturday to even the series after dropping the first game 6-5.
“Too little, too late,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of scoring four runs in the final two innings to pull within a run and the game ending with Max Kepler flying out to left with the bases loaded.
“It was nice to see us make a run there, obviously. You try to keep pushing till the game’s over, but it just puts a lot of pressure on your team to find a way to come back when you’re down by four there.”
The Twins will start right-hander Lance Lynn in the second game of the series. Lynn is 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA, allowing five earned runs in 11 innings in two starts this season against the Royals. He has struck out 11 and walked six in the first two starts.
Lynn is 5-2 within the American League Central this season. He won his first four decisions against division opponents before dropping two in a row and then rebounding with an 8-5 victory over Kansas City on July 11 at Target Field.
Lynn is 2-1 with a 5.09 ERA in his career against the Royals and is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA at Kauffman Stadium, surrendering 13 earned runs over 17 1/3 innings.
The 31-year-old right-hander, whom the Twins signed as a free agent in spring training, is 7-7 with a 5.22 ERA in 18 starts this season.
Alex Gordon has hit Lynn well, going 9-for-17. Mike Moustakas is 5-for-16 (.313) with three home runs and six RBIs. All-Star catcher Salvador Perez is 4-for-11 with a home run off Lynn.
The Royals will counter with right-hander Jakob Junis, who will be coming of the disabled list. He has not pitched since July 2, when he lost 9-1 to the Cleveland Indians. He left after pitching 5 1/3 innings and surrendering a career-worst nine runs, eight earned. He gave up a grand slam and three-run homer to Francisco Lindor.
Junis went on the DL on July 8 with lower back inflammation.
Junis has lost seven straight, one shy of the club record held by Kyle Davies and Jeff Suppan.
The long ball has been Junis’ shortcoming, allowing a major league-leading 24, two more than Bartolo Colon of the Texas Rangers. Junis has given up a dozen home runs in his past five starts.
Junis has lost five straight home starts, also one away from the team record held by Dick Drago, dating to a May 18 victory over the Yankees. Junis is 3-7 with a 5.58 ERA in 10 home starts this season.
Junis is 0-1 with a 3.71 ERA in three career starts against the Twins. He permitted three runs in six innings in an 8-5 loss to Minnesota on May 28 at Kansas City.
Overall, Junis is 5-10 with a 5.13 ERA in 17 starts this season, permitting 103 hits, walking 28 and striking out 92 in 101 2/3 innings.
The Royals have lost 35 of 47 home games this year. The Twins are 15-28 on the road.