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Game 79 Open Thread: Minnesota Twins (43-38) vs. Kansas City Royals (45-33)

Smell the baseball.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Royals fans have been freaking out over the team's recent slide, but a win today splits the series with the Twins and keeps them at a distance of 4 1/2 games, one of the largest leads by a division leader in baseball. The Royals have had a bad week, but overall have still played pretty well recently, going 11-8 since their series in St. Louis. Good teams have ups and downs, the important thing is to avoid a long slump.

The Twins start old friend Ervin Santana today, his first start of the season after being suspended 80 games for using stanozolol. Aside from his down year in 2012, Erv has pretty much been a 2-3 fWAR pitcher, and won 14 games for the Braves last year with a 3.39 FIP. He can be home run-prone, but the Royals have hit just one home run in their last five games, that opposite field chip shot by Kendrys Morales in Houston.

Danny Duffy goes for the Royals today. He had some encouraging signs in his last start in Houston, going deep in the game, but still suffered from inconsistent command at times. Duffy is throwing far fewer fastballs than he ever has in his career, with less effective results from his heater. He is striking out more hitters than he did last year, but his walks are up too, and he's been bitten by the BABIP goblins. Duffy has pitched the Twins very welll historically, with a 2.36 career ERA in 49 1/3 innings against them.