Luis Mendoza gets the ball for the Royals, and will look to build off an outing that lasted into the eighth inning against the White Sox. Mendoza didn't get much run support in the 2-1 loss, but the performance has buoyed his confidence.
"I feel like I can get better and better every start," Mendoza said. "I've got to take the ball [Saturday] and go for it."
Recent history will be on his side, as the right-hander threw eight innings of one-run ball against the Twins on June 29. Mendoza walked none and struck out five in that outing, his last win.
"We faced them so far a lot and we're going to face them more times," he said. "Just try to keep pitching the same way, be aggressive. Even if I pitched good against them the last time, I've got to stay aggressive, use the same pitches I used and just go play. I know my teammates are going to be good."
The Twins will counter with Scott Diamond, who has made just one career start against the Royals, albeit a good one. The left-hander turned in his best outing of the season against the Royals on June 29 -- eight innings of two-run ball -- and will look to duplicate that after a shaky start last time out.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire believes Diamond struggled in his last start because of an 11-day layoff due to the All-Star break, something that being back on a regular schedule can correct.
"You could tell he was a little rusty," Gardenhire said. "He had quite a few days off. Get him back on his regular rest here and see if he can go a little bit better than that. He did overthrow the ball a little bit and misfired a little bit more than we've seen him. But that's probably because of all the days off and the time that we think he needed."
Royals: Gordon's hit streak snapped
Leadoff hitter Alex Gordon had his nine-game hitting streak snapped on Friday with an 0-4 performance. Gordon hit .474 (18-for-38) during the streak.
Twins: Mauer moving up all-time walks list
Joe Mauer drew his 513th career walk on Friday, tying him with Chuck Knoblauch for sixth on the Twins' all-time list. Next is Roy Smalley with 549.
Trevor Plouffe went 0-for-3 on Friday to snap his career-high 17-game hitting streak. Plouffe went 22-for-67 (.328) during that stretch.
No Twins batter has had more than six at-bats against Mendoza, but Justin Morneau is 4-for-5 and Ryan Doumit 3-for-6 lifetime against the Royals starter.