Following a 5-2 road trip that ended with a 5-4, 12-inning loss at Miami on Thursday afternoon, the Minnesota Twins will play 16 of their next 22 games at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The American League Central leaders open a 10-game homestand on Friday night with a three-game set against the fourth-place Kansas City Royals.
Left-hander Martin Perez (8-4, 4.38 ERA), who went 1-1 with a 5.32 ERA in four July starts, will start for the Twins and will be opposed by right-hander Glenn Sparkman (3-7, 5.25).
Perez is 1-1 with a 3.73 ERA in five career starts against Kansas City, with the loss coming on June 16 at Target Field, an 8-6 setback in which he allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits in 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven and walking one.
Sparkman is 1-3 with a 4.74 ERA in six career appearances (two starts) against Minnesota but won his last start against the Twins on June 20 in Kansas City. He gave up only one run on five hits over seven innings in the 4-1 win.
However, Sparkman is 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA in four appearances and one start at Target Field. He got the loss in a 5-4 setback to the Twins on June 15 there, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits, including a two-run homer to Marwin Gonzalez and a solo shot by Max Kepler, and two walks in five innings.
Minnesota also plays three games against National League East-leading Atlanta before concluding the homestand with four games against Cleveland Indians, currently in second place in the AL Central. Minnesota has added relief pitchers Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson since their last game at Target Field to try bolster a bullpen that had been springing leaks over the past two months.
Romo has pitched two scoreless innings in two appearances with Minnesota since being acquired from the Miami Marlins last Saturday while Dyson, acquired from the Giants just before Wednesday afternoon's trade deadline, failed to record an out while blowing a three-run lead in the ninth inning in Thursday's loss to the Marlins, allowing two hits and two walks. Harold Ramirez homered leading off the bottom of the 12th off reliever Cody Stashak to win it for Miami.
Dyson, who was 4-1 with two saves and a 2.47 ERA in 49 games with San Francisco, flew to Miami from Philadelphia on Thursday and didn't arrive to the stadium until the early innings of the contest.
"Coming from our point of view, the way the game played out, it made sense to get him in," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "It's a three-run game in the ninth inning ... he's going to pitch in big spots like that for us for the rest of the year. I thought it fit well. He was ready to go. He's going to be a guy we lean (on). Days like today are going to happen."
"Didn't execute, didn't get the job done," Dyson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "These guys went after it and played their asses off. We had the lead. I didn't do my job as part of the game. That's a bad first impression. Hopefully there's no more of those."
Kansas City, which has the worst road record (17-35) in the majors, brings in a three-game losing streak and has lost six of its last seven games. The Royals managed just three hits, including a Cam Gallagher home run, in their last game, a 4-1 home loss to Toronto on Wednesday.
"We smoked some balls," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The first two games (with the Blue Jays), I didn't feel like we swung the bats well. We left runners on and we just didn't swing the bats well. Today, we didn't have anything to show for it. I thought we swung the bats really, really well. It's a crazy game sometimes."