Carl Pavano, like many of his Minnesota Twins teammates, got off to a bit of a rough start to the 2011 season, but has certainly turned it around as of late, and will attempt to keep that going as the Twins host the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night at Target Field.
Pavano has posted a 2.68 ERA over his last seven starts, during which the Twins are 5-2 (and 5-0 against teams not named the Milwaukee Brewers). That has dropped his ERA for the season to 4.10, and has allowed him to finally even his record out at 6-6 after spending much of the first two months of the season getting battered around. Pavano has started twice against the Royals this season, with mixed results. Back on May 1, he allowed twelve hits and seven runs (six earned) in a 10-3 Minnesota loss at Kauffman Stadium. He was significantly better on June 3 in Kansas City, pitching a complete game and allowing nine hits and two runs as Minnesota was victorious by a score of 5-2.
The Twins hope that Pavano can help the team recover from another blown save by Matt Capps, who allowed a two-run homer to Royals' first baseman Eric Hosmer to waste seven brilliant innings by Nick Blackburn and ultimately send the Twins to a 2-1 loss. It was Capps' seventh blown save of the season, tying him for the Major League lead in that category.
The Royals will send left-hander Jeff Francis (3-10, 4.60 ERA) to the mound on Saturday night. Francis has not registered a victory since June 10, a span encompassing his last five starts. Francis has faced the Twins twice this year. On April 12 at Target Field, he allowed three runs on eight hits in seven innings and wound up with a no-decision as the Twins defeated the Royals, 4-3. On June 5 in Kansas City, he allowed four runs on six hits in seven innings, and was tagged with the loss in Minnesota's 6-0 victory.
First pitch for tonight's game is scheduled for 6:10 PM Central time at Target Field. Be sure to keep an eye on our friends at Twinkie Town for the Game Thread, and head back here when the game is finished for the recap.