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Next 8 vs. Royals, Yankees may define Twins season

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After a woeful 1-4 road trip to Cleveland and Miami, it is crunch time for the Minnesota Twins.

The next eight games are at Target Field against Kansas City and the New York Yankees. For a Twins team now six games under .500 at 34-40, short term success is at a premium, especially when the next 14 games after these two series are exclusively against American League East teams, including three more against the Yankees in the Bronx.

In a realistic scenario, if the Twins go 4-4 over the next eight, and 5-9 on their swing through the AL East, they'll be 43-53 at the All Star break. Last year after 96 games, the Twins had a record of 40-56.

First things first, though. The Kansas City Royals are in town through Sunday, with tonight's opener featuring Samuel Deduno (3-2, 3.72 ERA) versus Jeremy Guthrie (7-5, 4.20 ERA).

The rest of the series shapes up like this:

Friday: Wade Davis (4-5, 4.96) vs. P.J. Walters (2-3, 4.88).

Saturday: James Shields (2-6, 2.92) vs. Kyle Gibson 0-0, 0.00) .

Sunday: Ervin Santana (5-5, 2.74) vs. Kevin Correia (6-5, 3.82).

After that, it's Yankee time.

While superstars Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are currently out of the lineup, New York is still second in the AL East, with a 42-35 record, 3.5 games behind first-place Boston.

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