Twins seek opening-weekend sweep of Royals


Starting the season for the second consecutive time in Kansas City, the Minnesota Twins again are 2-0 to begin the year and will look for a series sweep in Sunday’s finale with the Royals.

After being taken out of Thursday’s Opening Day win, Minnesota infielder Royce Lewis was placed on the injured list before Saturday’s game and is expected to miss at least a month of action. Nevertheless, the Twins remain hopeful.

“He’s a unique healer,” said Twins president of baseball operations Dan Falvey, who described the injury as a “severe right quad injury” that Lewis sustained while running the bases.

“He seems to come back pretty quickly,” Falvey said. “He’s already feeling better than he felt yesterday, and that’s his nature. He’s very optimistic, and that’s the way we want to approach this.”

It’s the latest injury for Lewis, who was taken by the Twins with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. He tore his right ACL in 2021 and 2022, then was limited to 58 games last season because of hamstring and oblique injuries.

“I wouldn’t even call this long,” Lewis said. “The long (injuries) I’ve dealt with were a year long. We know it’s not surgery. Not going under the knife is very important.”

Additionally, the Twins received unfortunate news about right-hander Anthony DeSclafini, who underwent surgery Friday to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm. DeSclafini, who was acquired from Seattle in an offseason trade, will miss the entire season.

Right-handers Bailey Ober of the Twin and Brady Singer of the Royals will make their season debuts on Sunday afternoon.

In seven career starts against the Royals, Ober is 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA, losing his past two appearances in Kansas City. In the most recent outing, on July 29, 2023, he allowed six runs in four innings on 11 hits, including a triple and homer by Bobby Witt Jr., who has five hits in 11 at-bats against Ober.

Each of Witt’s first three hits this season have been doubles. In the sixth inning Saturday, he lined a hit to right, then legged out the double ahead of right fielder Matt Wallner’s throw with a lightning-fast home-to-second time measured at 7.70 seconds.

Ober was 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA last season for the Twins.

His counterpart, Singer, finished 2023 with an 8-11 mark and a 5.52 ERA in 29 starts. Singer is 2-6 with a 5.90 ERA in 11 starts against the Twins, most recently throwing five innings while allowing two runs on four hits and striking out 10 last July 28.

Scoring just one run in each of the first two games, Royals hitters have gone 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

Kansas City’s rebuilt pitching staff delivered mixed results Saturday with starter free-agent acquisition Seth Lugo throwing six shutout frames, but the bullpen gave up five runs on five hits, two walks and three hit batters over the final three innings, with newcomer Will Smith surrendering four runs in a tie-breaking ninth inning.

“Obviously you want your first outing to go well,” Smith said. “This one didn’t. It is what it is. I could say all the cliches: ‘It’s a long season’ and all that stuff, but as a competitor you want your first outing to go well. It’s going to sting a little bit, but the next one will be better.”

The Royals’ 0-2 start to 2024 is their 17th such start in franchise history, and their two runs scored through two games is their second-lowest output in franchise history, behind only last year (zero runs).

–Field Level Media

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