In two starts, the Kansas City lefty has lost both contests, a trend he'll be looking to reverse when he starts Tuesday's series opener at Target Field.
The first time Smith took on Minnesota, he was making just his third Major League start. On June 4, he surrendered seven runs on eight hits, including three home runs, in a 10-7 Kansas City loss.
Things were much different on Sept. 1, but the result was the same. Smith allowed just three runs in six innings -- this time keeping the ball in the yard -- but the Royals' offense mustered just one run, leading to yet another loss for Smith.
The left-hander is hoping the third time is the charm in the opener, when he'll be making his first start since Sept. 1. Some rotation shuffling was done after the rain-induced doubleheader between these two teams that day, and Smith had a start skipped.
Smith gets the start thanks to some more rotation shuffling by manager Ned Yost. Luke Hochevar was slated to pitch the opener but will now go Wednesday.
The Twins will start Scott Diamond, who has also faced Kansas City twice this season, going 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA. Diamond hasn't seen the Royals since July 21, when he suffered his fourth loss of the year.
The Minnesota lefty snapped a four-start winless streak in his last outing against the White Sox. He lasted just five innings, surrendering four runs, but the Twins offense erupted for 18 runs and Diamond got the win.
Diamond has been Minnesota's best pitcher in a season where the Twins are out of it but still trying to win ballgames.
"These guys care," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They're always hooting and hollering at each other. They root for each other. We're still having fun even though we know we'd rather be in a pennant race. These guys still come to the ballpark and do their work and play the game hard. It's impressive but it has to happen around here and we know that."
Royals: Extra-inning affairs
The Royals played their 13th extra-inning game of the season Sunday, defeating the White Sox, 2-1. Kansas City is tied with Chicago for the second-most extra-inning contests in the American League, trailing only Baltimore, which has played 14. Following the win, the Royals are 7-6 in extras.
Royals reliever Francisley Bueno started serving a two-game suspension in Sunday's series finale with the White Sox. His suspension, which was reduced after appeal from three games to two, comes from an incident in 2008 while with the Braves, when he threw a pitch over the head of the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano. Bueno didn't appear in a Major League game between that 2008 contest and this season.
Bruce Chen struck out the 1,000th batter of his career Saturday against Chicago when he got Alexi Ramirez swinging in the first inning. He piled up six strikeouts, now boasting 1,005. He's the 55th active pitcher to have 1,000 whiffs.
Twins: Mauer rakes against Royals
In 11 games this season against the Royals, Joe Mauer has hit .425 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs, six walks, nine runs scored and nine RBIs. The outstanding numbers aren't that big a surprise if you look at Mauer's career numbers against Kansas City. In 116 career games, Mauer is hitting .355 with 31 doubles, nine home runs and 88 RBIs.
Josh Willingham sat out Sunday's game with a sore hamstring. He served as the designated hitter Monday, and he hasn't played in the outfield since Sept. 1 against the Royals.
After winning 10 of the first 15 games against the Royals this season, the Twins have won at least 10 games against the Royals in each of the last five seasons.
Justin Morneau's two home runs Sunday against the Indians were his 23rd and 24th against Cleveland in his career. He's now hit more home runs against the Indians than any other team. Before his latest home runs, he had 22 each against Cleveland, Detroit and Kansas City.