The Kansas City Royals will look for their first series sweep of the season as they host the Minnesota Twins on Thursday in the finale of a three-game set.
The Twins will send right-hander Joe Ryan (1-1, 2.70 ERA) to the mound to face Royals right-hander Zack Greinke (0-0, 2.45).
The starting pitching is not the only reason to expect a low-scoring contest. The two clubs are among the lowest-scoring teams in the American League.
On Wednesday, Daniel Lynch allowed just four hits over five-plus innings as the Royals claimed their first shutout of the season, 2-0. They also claimed their first shutout over the Twins since Aug. 20, 2016, with 94 games in between.
The Royals’ bullpen has not allowed a run in the last 17 1/3 innings.
“That was an even better version of what we saw in his first start, and he was really good in the first (start),” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of Lynch after the game. “I thought he had everything working. He did everything we asked him to do.
“The bullpen, to me, was everything we could ask for. They were lights out. They’re finding some comfortability in what their roles are. They’re changing, but they’re flexible. Watching them take their turn when it gets to the seventh, eighth and ninth, it shows their selflessness.”
Lynch’s counterpart, Chris Paddack, allowed just one hard-hit ball in five innings, but he gave up runs on a double-play groundout and a bunt single.
Greinke has not picked up a victory since returning to the Royals this season — after being away since the 2010 season — but he has pitched well. He has allowed just three runs total while throwing more than five innings in each of his two starts.
Greinke maintains that he is not above learning from the young pitchers who make up the rest of the Royals’ starting staff.
“I’ve been the old guy for a while now,” he said Tuesday. “It’s fun playing with guys who are younger. I’d rather play with a lot of young guys than old guys. They might be more eager to learn, but if you’re older and still playing, you’re just as interested in learning.”
Greinke is 5-9 with a 4.63 ERA in 25 career games (21 starts) against the Twins. He allowed three runs in six innings during his only meeting with Minnesota last season.
Ryan, who will be facing the Royals for the first time, allowed just two hits in four innings on Opening Day against the Mariners. However, he gave up four walks plus a two-run home run to Seattle’s Mitch Haniger.
In his second start, Ryan struck out seven and walked none in six innings against Boston. He allowed just a solo home run to Alex Verdugo. He threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of 22 hitters, relying mostly on his slider.
“It’s a nice pitch to have and I like where it’s coming in,” he said of his slider. “I focused on the pace, attacking early and staying on it the whole time. I had an amazing day. I think it was the warmest day we’ve had (so far).”
The temperature Thursday is expected to be in the upper 70s in Kansas City.
–Field Level Media