After a 2-1 walk-off win on Tuesday, the first-place Royals will try to pad their lead in the American League Central on Wednesday, turning to last-minute callup Liam Hendriks to battle his former team at Kauffman Stadium.
Rookie Yordano Ventura was slated to make the start against the Twins, but he was scratched with mid-back tightness. Hendriks, 25, is an Australian who has had a very successful Triple-A season. In a total of 23 games for Omaha and Buffalo, the former Twins right-hander is 12-2 with a 2.45 ERA. He's also had 126 strikeouts against a mere 13 walks in 143 innings.
"He throws strikes," manager Ned Yost said. "They like him, they like his stuff."
Hendriks has pitched in four big league seasons for the Twins and the Blue Jays with a composite 3-13 record and 6.06 ERA in 33 games. The Royals hope he can improve those numbers in a start against his former club.
"It's going to be interesting. It could be really good or really bad," Hendriks said. "But I'm going to go out there and pitch the same way I have been. The way I've been pitching this year, I wasn't pitching that way last year with them. So hopefully, it will catch them off guard a little bit and I can get ahead, and put us in a winning position."
Stopping the Twins won't be an easy task with the way they have been hitting of late, scoring 42 runs on 57 hits in their previous four-game series with the Tigers. Manager Ron Gardenhire stuck with the same weekend lineup in Tuesday's game, though the Twins managed only one run.
"We've actually just come in and just hit print. It's the lineup we've been doing for a while, and we mix in a couple of guys, but we're able to actually write a lineup out with [the] one, two, three, four, five [hitters] all in the same place finally," Gardenhire said.
Phil Hughes will make Wednesday's start. He's tossed at least six innings while allowing one run exactly in four straight starts despite dealing with a broken right index finger for that entire stretch. His last time out, Hughes gave up one run on five hits to Cleveland in seven innings, defeating Tribe ace Corey Kluber.
"To be able to not have your best stuff and be able to limit those guys to one run when you're going against one of the best guys in the league is obviously a good feeling," Hughes said. "We needed this win desperately. So it was good to get this one."
Twins: Buxton to play in AFL
Byron Buxton, MLB.com's No. 1 prospect, headlines a group of six Twins prospects on the Arizona Fall League rosters that were announced on Tuesday.
Buxton's participation in the six-team league that begins on Oct. 7 comes as an encouraging sign, considering he was shut down for the Minor League season two weeks ago due to a concussion.
"That's what they're saying, that that concussion is OK. I've heard that," Gardenhire said. "That will be good that he goes down there and gets back into baseball."
The concussion and a wrist injury zapped Buxton's production and playing time this season. He only played 31 games and batted .240/.313/.405 with six steals at Class A Advanced Fort Myers. This after a breakout 2013 campaign when he played 125 games and batted .334/.424/.520 with 55 steals at Class A Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers.
Royals: Infante nursing sore shoulder
Second baseman Omar Infante was out of the Royals' lineup on Tuesday night with a sore right shoulder that's been bothering him for about two weeks.
"Omar's got some shoulder inflammation, so we're going to give him a day or two. He's been battling that for a while," manager Ned Yost said. "It bothers him when he throws, not when he hits."
Rookie Christian Colon made his fourth start at second base in the series opener against the Twins.
"Omar's been playing with it for two weeks, but we feel Colon can fill in for a couple days, let him get back to where it's manageable," Yost said. "Two or three days, we'll look at it and see how he feels."
• Kansas City is 9-0-1 in its last 10 series coming into this one against the Twins and can make it 11 straight unbeaten series with a win on Wednesday.
• Twins infielder Danny Santana enters Wednesday's matchup with a 10-game hitting streak.
Caitlin Swieca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.