The Kansas City Royals ' bats got off to a slow start last week, but now they continue to string hits together.
Kansas City will also look to string together its fourth straight win on Wednesday night as it seeks its first three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins in nearly two years.
The Royals (5-3) began the season with two losses while totaling two runs on 12 hits. They've won five of six since, with Tuesday's 7-4 victory over the Twins marking their third time with 13 or more hits in the last five contests.
It's a far cry from the 12-game losing streak they endured last April.
"We're starting to realize we can win," said closer Greg Holland , who earned the save Tuesday. "Last year, we were trying to figure it out mentally as far as being confident day in and day out. Now this team is really confident."
Alex Gordon continues to lead the offense since an 0-for-3 performance on opening day, going 13 for 30 since. He had his second triple on Tuesday while going 2 for 4 with two runs.
Looking to benefit from Kansas City's production Wednesday, as it tries for its first three-game sweep of Minnesota since April 29-May 1, 2011, will be starter Wade Davis . He struggled Friday at Philadelphia in his first start since 2011, giving up four runs on nine hits and exiting down 4-0 after four innings. But the Royals' offense got going from there, scoring at least two runs apiece in the final five innings of a 13-4 victory.
Starting for the Twins (4-4) will be Liam Hendriks , who is 0-1 with a 7.24 ERA in three starts versus Kansas City. Mike Moustakas , Billy Butler and Salvador Perez are a combined 14 of 22 against Hendriks.
The right-hander gave up four runs on eight hits in 4 2-3 innings in a 9-5 loss at Baltimore on Friday.
"The last outing was sketchy, but I don't think I should put any pressure on him," general manager Terry Ryan told the team's official website. "He's capable of giving us good outings."
Holland gained a measure of redemption with Tuesday's save, though not without some dramatics. Some wondered how long Holland's job would be safe after he gave up four runs on three hits and three walks over a combined inning of work in his last two appearances. But he struck out Joe Mauer to end the game after loading the bases with two walks and a single.
"He's just been kind of a slow starter," manager Ned Yost told the Royals' official website. "Once he gets his feet underneath him, he's lights out. We'll adjust it out."
Only four current Twins have at-bats against Davis, with Mauer going 4 for 5 against him. Davis allowed 10 runs over 10 1-3 innings in his first two career starts against the Twins in 2010, but posted a 2.89 ERA over 18 2-3 innings in three starts versus Minnesota in 2011.
Butler has hit safely in his last 10 games against the Twins, going 18 for 42 (.429) with 10 RBIs.
Kansas City hadn't committed an error this season until Moustakas mishandled a groundball from Darin Mastroianni in the fifth inning of Tuesday's game.
|March 30, 2013||Cole De Vries||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 24, 2013||Tim Wood||15-Day DL||Right rotator cuff strain|
|March 22, 2013||Anthony Swarzak||15-Day DL||Fractured ribs|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Diamond||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Anthony Swarzak||15-Day DL||Fractured ribs|
|Kansas City Royals|
|March 31, 2013||Danny Duffy||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|February 12, 2013||Felipe Paulino||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Not even a bitter cold and steady rain could slow the Kansas City Royals .
Wade Davis pitched out of bases loaded jams in the first two innings, Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur homered and the Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 3-0 on Wednesday night to sweep the three-game series.
With the first-pitch temperature at 45 degrees, a wind chill in the mid-30s and rain most of the game, the Royals won their fourth straight and sixth in seven games to move three over .500 for the first time since May 12, 2011 - when they were 20-17.
"Horrible," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The conditions were not very conducive to playing baseball. It was cold and wet, but it played the same for both teams. It was tough to score. I didn't think anybody would be able to hit a home run tonight with the heavy air and damp air."
Butler homered in the first, while Francoeur led off the seventh with a home run to extend his hitting streak to seven games.
"It was cold, man," Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said. "As long as we get a `W' it doesn't matter how cold it is."
The Royals have won their first three Kauffman Stadium games after losing their first 10 at home last April.
"That's in the past," Yost said. "That's not in our mind anymore. We remember it, but this is a new team. It's nice to be 6-3."
The Royals got another run in the seventh when Alcides Escobar 's single scored Chris Getz . Salvador Perez had three of the nine Kansas City hits.
Davis (1-0), acquired from Tampa Bay in a December trade, held the Twins to four singles in five scoreless innings, striking out six, walking three and hitting a batter.
"The first two innings, he did a magnificent job of pitching out of bases loaded jams and in the second inning with nobody out," Yost said. "He kind of settled down from that point. He got through five and his pitch count was up."
Twins right-hander Liam Hendriks (0-1), who is 1-11 in 22 career starts, took the loss, although he gave up just one run - Butler's homer - on four hits in five innings.
"I went out there and I was feeling a little disoriented," Hendriks said. "I wasn't feeling right. Once I got locked in it was better. It was just the one pitch (Butler's home run) which hurt.
"I felt really good out of the stretch. The number of pitches, 96 in five innings, that's not a positive. Just the one home run, I was pleased, compared to the last time out. It was tough conditions today."
Davis, who threw 52 pitches in the first two innings, struck out Aaron Hicks and Joe Mauer to start the game, before walking two and yielding a bloop single to Justin Morneau . Trevor Plouffe flied out to end the inning.
Davis faced a bigger predicament in the second when the Twins loaded the bases with none out. He rebounded by striking out Hicks and Mauer and retiring Josh Willingham on an infield popup.
"I got into a little trouble early and didn't make it too easy on myself," Davis said.
Bruce Chen replaced Davis and worked three innings, giving up two hits, while Kelvin Herrera completed the shutout with three strikeouts to pick up his second save in as many opportunities.
The Twins stranded 12 runners and went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Notes: Twins LHP Scott Diamond , who had arthroscopic surgery in December to remove a bone chip, is penciled in to come off the disabled list Saturday and start against the New York Mets . Diamond went 12-7 with a 3.54 ERA last season as a rookie. ... C George Kottaras has yet to play in the first nine Royals games. ... RHP Luis Mendoza will start Friday against Toronto, but will be skipped his next start with the Royals having four off-days in the next 12 days. ... After committing just one error in their first eight games, Escobar and CF Lorenzo Cain made fielding miscues Wednesday. ... The Twins dropped to 171-172 all-time at Kansas City.