Royals-Twins Preview

Strong pitching has the Kansas City Royals in position to sweep three games from the Minnesota Twins and make another statement in the AL Central race.

Edinson Volquez tries for his first road win of the year as the Royals go for their fourth straight victory Wednesday night.

Kansas City (33-23) supplanted Minnesota (33-25) atop the division by percentage points by winning 3-1 on Monday before moving one game ahead with Tuesday's 2-0 victory. The Royals have won four of the past five meetings with the Twins, 12 of the last 17 and six of nine at Target Field.

Chris Young and Jason Vargas combined to toss 12 1-3 scoreless innings in the last two games, with Young's no-hit bid Tuesday spoiled by Trevor Plouffe's triple with one out in the seventh.

"We're just trying to win every night regardless of the situation or circumstances," Young said. "You try to win every night, put your best foot forward and at the end of the year hopefully we're where we want to be."

Volquez (4-4, 3.26 ERA), who's 0-2 with a 4.13 ERA in four road starts, gave up three runs in 7 2-3 innings of a 3-1 loss at Minnesota on April 15. He held the Twins to one run in seven innings of a 7-1 home win five days later.

The right-hander surrendered four runs with six strikeouts and three walks in 5 1-3 innings of Friday's 4-0 loss to Texas. He had gone 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA over his previous three outings.

Volquez blamed his lackluster performance on going a week between starts.

"I think seven days off took my rhythm off," he said. "I was fighting myself to find the strike zone. I threw a lot of good pitches, but not the way I was pitching before in the last couple games I pitched."

He's 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in four games while pitching on four days' rest this season. Volquez will face a Minnesota team that's averaged 1.3 runs in the last four contests.

The Twins have dropped four of five - all at home - matching the number of defeats they had in the previous 19 games there.

"We want to win series, and we haven't put ourselves in position to do that lately ... mainly because of our offense," Plouffe said. "We are confident. We know stuff like this is going to happen throughout the year. It's just not fun when it happens."

Despite his triple Tuesday, Plouffe has gone 2 for 32 over the past eight games. He's 3 for 6 against Volquez, however.

Minnesota's Kyle Gibson (4-3, 3.00) has posted a 1.89 ERA while winning all three career home starts against the Royals. The right-hander wasn't sharp opposite Volquez on April 20, giving up four runs with four walks in five innings in a 7-1 loss.

He allowed five runs in the first three innings Friday before settling down with four scoreless and finishing with a career-high nine strikeouts, not getting the decision in a 10-5 defeat to Milwaukee.

Gibson was 3-1 with a 1.54 ERA over his previous seven starts.

He's struggled against Alcides Escobar, who is 6 for 14 off him. Salvador Perez has two hits in 14 at-bats in the matchup.

Perez is 6 for 15 with three solo homers and a double in four games after one of his two hits left the park Tuesday. He's a career .343 hitter at Target Field.

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