Royals right-hander Jason Vargas may be coming off his shortest outing of the season, but the Twins should prove a welcome sight as he looks to rebound.
Minnesota has already been bested by Vargas twice this season entering Wednesday's series finale at Target Field. Both of those meetings came in April, when Vargas held the Twins to two runs over a combined 14 innings in back-to-back starts. He scattered 12 hits, struck out eight and walked four in those games.
But Vargas, now 7-3 with a 3.53 ERA, enters this start on the heels of one that saw him surrender six runs on nine hits, including a trio of homers, in just four innings against the Angels.
It was the first time Vargas had allowed more than three runs since May 19, vs. the White Sox.
"It just wasn't his day," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said after that outing against the Halos. "He really struggled with command of his fastball; he had trouble getting it down. I think all three homers they hit were on fastballs up. Just one of those days where it was a fight with his command."
The Twins will counter with veteran right-hander Kevin Correia.
Correia began the season on unsteady footing, going 0-3 with a 7.33 ERA through five April starts, but he has since settled down and has a 3.56 ERA over his last eight outings. His streak of quality starts come to an end at three on Sunday, when he gave up four runs in six innings against the Rangers. Half the damage was caused by a two-run homer from Adrian Beltre.
"I felt pretty comfortable out there and my stuff was pretty decent, I just made a couple of bad pitches -- one to Beltre in the first cost me, then [Shin-soo] Choo, he hit three balls off of me," Correia said. "I fell behind him and threw three bad pitches all three times. That was the game right there."
Correia has given up eight runs (seven earned) in two starts against the Royals this season.
Twins: Mauer leaves with injured oblique
First baseman Joe Mauer was pulled from Tuesday's game after straining his right oblique.
Mauer, 31, had extended his hitting streak to a season-high 12 games with a two-run double in the bottom of the fourth inning and pulled the muscle advancing to second base. He was removed in the following frame and is expected to undergo further examination by the team's medical staff on Wednesday.
He has hit .271 with a .342 on-base percentage in 76 games.
Royals: Aoki progressing in rehab
Injured right fielder Nori Aoki, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 18 with a groin strain, shagged fly balls in the outfield on Tuesday and appears to be on track in his recovery.
"It's right where we thought he'd be," Yost said. "Right where he's supposed to be. Feeling better, but not quite 100 percent right now. We started integrating him back into baseball skills; taking batting practice, doing light jogging."
Despite the headway, Aoki is not expected to rejoin the club before it begins its road series with the Rays on July 7. He hit .263/.326/.324 through his first 68 games with the Royals.
• Twins second baseman Brian Dozier was given a rare day off on Tuesday, but the team expects him back in the lineup on Wednesday. Eduardo Escobar got the start in Dozier's absence.
• With Tuesday's 10-2 loss to the Twins, the Royals are 9-2 in their past 11 road games. They are 22-18 away from Kauffman Stadium on the season.
• Royals catcher Salvador Perez has gone a career 33-for-92 at Target Field entering Wednesday.
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.