Kansas City starter Ervin Santana is looking to cap off a pretty special month of June when the Royals face the Twins on Sunday in the finale of a four-game set. He will be opposed by Kevin Correia.
After a 3-1 loss on Thursday, a 9-3 win on Friday and a 6-2 loss on Saturday, Santana and the Royals need a win to split the series and hold a lead over the Twins for third place in the AL Central.
This month, Santana's not only achieved his 100th career victory but has gone 2-0 in five starts and leads the Majors with a 1.56 ERA.
He's also one of the most consistent starters in the Majors, with the longest active streak of six or more innings at 15 straight starts. Teammate James Shields' streak of 29 such starts ended on June 23.
In his last start, Santana pitched four scoreless innings before giving up four straight hits, resulting in three runs. Still, he finished with seven strikeouts.
"I thought he threw the ball really well," manager Ned Yost said. "He had a hiccup in the fifth where he gave up four straight hits but he kept us in the ballgame."
The three runs were the most he'd given up in five June starts.
"I felt good the whole game, just missed a couple pitches and they made a good adjustment," Santana said.
He and Correia are both hoping to prevent a troublesome middle inning.
Correia is coming off a hard-luck loss on Tuesday, when he held the Marlins to just two runs on five hits through six innings in Miami. In the first five innings he gave up only two hits, but the righty fell into trouble in the sixth, surrendering three one-out singles to give up the lead.
"You know you're going to have a tough inning," Correia said. "You're not going to cruise the whole game. It's just a matter of limiting your damage. It's just frustrating, obviously, to give up the lead right there."
Correia is 6-5 this season with a 3.82 ERA and a team-high nine quality starts. He was acquired by the Twins as a free-agent this offseason.
"The one guy that we got was Correia," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "I got crucified over getting him and he's panned out OK."
Royals: Kansas City recalls Johnny Giavotella, Frenchy sent down
The Royals announced on Saturday that they recalled infielder Johnny Giavotella from Triple-A Omaha. In a corresponding move, they designated struggling right fielder Jeff Francoeur for assignment.
Giavotella, who will join the team for the finale on Sunday, was batting .287 for Omaha and riding a 20-game hitting streak, during which he's hit .472. He has appeared in 99 career games with the Royals over the last two seasons, hitting .242 with 41 runs, 16 doubles, five triples, three homers and 36 RBIs.
Francoeur was hitting .208 with three homers and 13 RBIs this season.
"Jeff made incredible contributions to our ballclub and our community," general manager Dayton Moore said. "I personally want to thank him for the winning attitude he brought to our clubhouse and our city."
Twins: Plouffe extends hitting streak in win
With a two-run homer in the first inning on Saturday, Trevor Plouffe extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
He has at least one hit in 20 of his last 21 games dating back to May 12. Over that span, he is hitting 25-for-78 (.321).
The home run was his sixth of the season and second of the month, with the first coming on June 15.
• Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has safely hit in eight of his last nine games with a .400 average (14-for-35) and six multi-hit games.
• Royals designated hitter Billy Butler continued a 17-game hitting streak against the Twins dating back to last season, going 1-for-4 on Saturday.
• Twins catcher Joe Mauer continued his slump, going 0-for-2 on Saturday and dropping to 0-11 this series. But he did walk twice and score a run.
Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.