Free MLB Picks: Royals @ Twins, 08:40 PM

Tuesday night. The Kansas City Royals are in their longest winning stretch of the season, and they have a chance to celebrate moving over the .500 mark tonight. Meanwhile, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is anticipating receiving the celebratory cigars for a different reason. Gardenhire's Twins are expecting the return of Joe Mauer from paternity leave when they sought to end the visiting Royals' six-game run. Kansas City (51-51) collected a win on Sunday that created its longest 2013 streak. The Royals collected 4-2, a 12-inning road win over the Chicago White Sox. It's the Royals' best record since they finished 2003 at 83-79. Mauer will come back in the lineup of the Twins (45-57) and play for the first time since last Monday. His wife gave birth Wednesday, appropriately enough to twins. Gardenhire, renowned for his love of cigars said he is expecting a pair from his superstar catcher.

Baseball predictions expert reports that Mauer is one of the AL's top hitters and he has an average of .324. He is now 7 for 43 (.163) with 10 strikeouts against Kansas City, where Minnesota lost seven out of 10 meetings. He has fared quite a lot better against Royals starter Ervin Santana who is 6-6 with a 3.06 ERA, going 14 for 34 (.412). Santana is now at 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last four outings against the Twins - 1-0 with a 2.57 mark in a pair in 2013. The right-hander is at 3-1 in total six starts against the AL Central foes with an ERA of 1.96 which is his best against any division. The Royals are anticipating center fielder Lorenzo Cain to return tonight. Cain had sat out on Sunday after leaving Saturday's 1-0 win with tightness in his left groin. Cain is now 11 for 33 versus Minnesota this year while Billy Butler is 17 for 35 with a pair of homers and eight RBIs. Butler is also hitting an average of .400 over an 8-4 stretch for Kansas City.

MLB weekly picks insider informs that the Royals have plenty of chances versus Mike Pelfrey who is 4-8 with a 5.15 ERA. Pelfrey is 0-1 with a 9.72 ERA in two starts against Royals this year. Six of Kansas City’s hitters - including Gordon, Butler and Cain - have pair of hits against him in those games. Although Pelfrey is going through a miserable season, the right-hander has pitched much better in the current month in going 1-2 with a 2.28 ERA in four starts. The Twins are going to begin this three-game set after playing the 4-3 trip. Second baseman Brian Dozier has seven-game hitting streak but he left Sunday's 6-4 defeat to Seattle in the sixth with lower back stiffness. Whether he would play on Tuesday is unclear. Minnesota slugger Justin Morneau is hitting an average of .333 in the season series. He's 6 for 24 including three homers versus Santana.

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