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Minnesota at Kansas City

Venue: Kauffman Stadium

The Kansas City Royals are the worst home team in baseball, and their rotation hasn't been much help.

Luke Hochevar has been a rare bright spot recently.

Hochevar will try to continue his productive stretch as the Royals open a three-game set with the last-place Minnesota Twins on Friday night.

Kansas City is 16-28 at home, losing four of five there while the rotation has posted a 9.41 ERA. The starters were routinely pounded this week while dropping three of four to Seattle behind a 12.89 ERA.

"It's more frustrating than deflating," manager Ned Yost told the team's official website after Thursday's 6-1 loss. "We're not pitching well right now. The guys are out giving it their best effort, but we've got to find a way to get back on track."

The Royals' ERA from the rotation is 5.43, ranking only better than the Twins' 5.74.

Hochevar (6-8, 5.16 ERA), though, is 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in his last five starts. He's 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA in his last three outings at home after going 0-4 with an 8.59 ERA in his first six starts at Kauffman Stadium.

The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.81 ERA in his last four home starts against Minnesota and struggled against the AL Central rival on the road June 30. Hochevar surrendered five runs and eight hits, including a season-high three homers, in six innings of a 5-1 loss.

Kansas City (39-52) was swept in that three-game series, and it's 3-6 in the last nine at home versus the Twins (38-54).

Minnesota has dropped nine of 12, and like the Royals, the rotation continues to be a major problem. It's compiled a 6.51 ERA over the last seven games, and the season mark by the starters is the club's highest since a franchise-record 6.11 ERA in the 1995 strike-shortened season.

The Twins are hoping Nick Blackburn (4-5, 8.10) can help them get on track after returning from a stint in the minors, but his ERA is almost two runs higher than any other pitcher with at least 63 innings.

"We need him desperately," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Blackburn went 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts for Triple-A Rochester, winning his last two in impressive fashion. The veteran right-hander tossed a nine-hitter July 8 and yielded one earned run in seven innings Saturday.

"I went down there and got to pitch seven or eight innings each time out. It was a great feeling to do that," Blackburn said. "I don't care what level you're at, when you haven't done that all year, to go get that done was a big accomplishment and confidence booster."

Blackburn was battered in his last two starts for the Twins, going 0-1 with a 12.00 ERA while surrendering 17 hits - four homers - in nine innings. However, facing the Royals may help him rebound since he's 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his last three starts against them.

Josh Willingham is 11 for 24 with four home runs and seven RBIs in the past seven games, and he's 10 for 30 with three homers while driving in 11 runs in eight 2012 meetings with Kansas City.

Willingham's lone hit in nine at-bats against Hochevar is a home run.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Probable Starters

Nick Blackburn, RHP
2012 stats
63.1 Innings Pitched 103.0
4-5 Wins-Losses 6-8
8.10 Earned Run Average 5.16
22 Walks 33
30 Strikeouts 75
82 Pitches Per Start 91
Career vs. opponent
70.1 Innings Pitched 75.1
3-3 Wins-Losses 4-4
4.73 Earned Run Average 5.14

Luke Hochevar, RHP
weather image  Mostly sunny. Hot.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Minnesota5th AL Central56101.357351-9 L 2
Kansas City3rd AL Central8077.510116-4 W 3
vs Luke Hochevar
vs Nick Blackburn

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Game Odds
Minnesota 125 Kansas City -135
J. AdamElbow
N. BurdiArm
L. DarnellShoulder
P. HughesShoulder
T. JayNeck
Y. LandaUndisclosed
T. MayBack
B. ParkFinger
G. PerkinsShoulder
T. PlouffeOblique
E. RosarioThumb
A. SalcedoSuspension
D. SantanaShoulder
L. ThorpeElbow
M. WaldenShoulder
Kansas City
L. CainWrist
T. CollinsElbow
D. GeeShoulder
L. HochevarShoulder
G. HollandElbow
K. MedlenShoulder
M. MinorShoulder
M. MoustakasKnee
Y. VenturaBack
K. ZimmerShoulder
Series Game Log
Apr 8KCKC 4-3Soria Jepsen 
Apr 9KCKC 7-0Kennedy Milone 
Apr 10KCKC 4-3Davis May 
May 23MINKC 10-4Moylan Nolasco 
May 24MINKC 7-4Volquez Santana 
May 25MINMIN 7-5Duffey Gee 
Aug 12MINKC 7-3Ventura Gibson 
Aug 13MINMIN 5-3Duffey Gee 
Aug 14MINKC 11-4Volquez Santiago 
Aug 18KCKC 8-1Gee Duffey 
Aug 19KCKC 5-4Wang Chargois 
Aug 20KCKC 10-0Kennedy Santiago 
Aug 21KCKC 2-1Duffy Santana 
Sep 5MINKC 11-5Kennedy Berrios 
Sep 6MINKC 10-3Herrera Kintzler 
Sep 7MINMIN 6-5Wimmers Soria 
Sep 27KCKC 4-3Pounders Milone 
Sep 28KC 7:15 PM EDT  
Sep 29KC 7:15 PM EDT