With scoreless outings in four of six starts, Kansas City starter Felipe Paulino is turning in the best stretch of his career. The journeyman brings a 19-inning home scoreless inning streak into Wednesday night's finale of a three-game set between the Royals and Minnesota Twins. After missing the first month of the season due to forearm tightness, Paulino (3-1, 1.70 ERA) made his season debut May 5 and threw six scoreless innings in a 5-1 victory over the Yankees. Strong outings such as that have since become the norm for the right-hander, who yielded three hits over six innings of Friday's 2-0 victory over Oakland. He has yet to allow a run at Kauffman Stadium this season, striking out 20 in 19 innings.
Paulino is 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota (21-34) both last year. Paulino has a tough act to follow after Bruce Chen gave up four hits over seven innings of Tuesday's 1-0 victory. Kansas City (24-30) posted its third shutout in the first five contests of its six-game homestand. However, don't be fooled or expect anything but a pitcher's duel. Kansas City and Minnesota starting rotations own the AL's two worst ERAs - 5.07 and 6.10, respectively. Another Twins starter with a poor ERA is up next in Nick Blackburn (1-4, 8.37), who was activated Tuesday off the disabled list after being out since May 16 with a left quad strain. The right-hander is 2-3 with a 5.03 ERA in 11 starts against Kansas City.
Blackburn has faced Billy Butler more than any Royals hitter, with Butler going 8 for 30. Butler has reached base safely in 25 of his last 29 games overall with a .303 average, six homers and 19 RBIs in that span. Josh Willingham is batting .364 with three homers and 12 RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak for the Twins. Given the price here we can't help but take a shot anticipating what could very well be a hitter's delight with the wind blowing south to north at Kauffman Stadium. Despite the Twinkies pitching woes they have recenlty righted the ship winning 6 of their last 8 in the process upping their team BA to .246 led by Willingham (.286 11 39) and Justin Morneau (.230 10 29) who went deep on Monday as the latter tries to stay healthy.
The Royals have won 7 of 10 and are hitting .262 collectively led by Butler (.297 11 35) and Mike Moustakas (.279 9 27) who have propelled KC to some solid play as of late winning 7 of 10. Moustakas and Jeff Francouer (.279 5 16) have not msised a game all season and the latter could use some help from the front of the lineup to help generate some production. Given Paulino's success and Blackburn's inability to put together a competitive start, we like our chances to start another streak as the pressure will be on Paulino to keep up the recent success in front of the home cooking which hasn't been too shabby given KC's level play as of late. Best of luck however you play!