The last time the Royals faced rookie Andrew Albers, on Aug. 6, he was making his Major League debut and they were caught completely off guard. The Royals managed just four hits in 8 1/3 scoreless innings as Albers led the Twins to a 7-0 victory against ace James Shields at Kauffman Stadium.
"It was special -- no question," Albers said after the game. "It's hard to put into words, but it was special. To be able to go out and have that kind of performance in your debut, unfortunately it's not going to get much better from there. So, I'm just going to enjoy this high and really enjoy tonight."
Albers goes for a second victory over the Royals on Wednesday night, this time at Target Field against Danny Duffy, as the Royals seek a fourth straight win.
Following his start in Kansas City, Albers threw a two-hit shutout against Cleveland, but he's fallen on some tougher times lately. He's given up five earned runs in each of his last two starts, including a seven-inning outing against the White Sox on Aug. 17 and 5 2/3 innings last Thursday against the Tigers.
Albers exited with a 6-3 lead in the sixth inning against the Tigers, but took a no-decision after reliever Josh Roenicke gave up a three-run homer.
"I thought Albers did a great job," Gardenhire said. "He changed speeds, moved the ball around. At the end there, they put some balls in the right places."
Looking for a fourth-straight victory, the Royals will send Duffy to the mound in his third start coming off Tommy John surgery. Duffy is replacing Wade Davis in the rotation, with Bruce Chen moving back for a Thursday start.
Duffy made his first post-surgery start on Aug. 7 against the Twins and gave up two runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He returned to pitch on Aug. 16 in a double-header at Detroit and shut out the Tigers over six innings, allowing just one hit.
"We haven't given up on making the playoffs," manager Ned Yost said. "We want Duffy on our playoff roster. And if we do make the playoffs, we're probably going to go with three starters and Wade is going to be in the 'pen at that time, so we might as well get him acclimated the last month."
Twins: No timetable for Mauer
Although All-Star catcher Joe Mauer is eligible to return from the seven-day disabled list and told manager Ron Gardenhire that he is starting to feel better, there is still no timetable for his return.
Mauer was placed on the 7-day disabled list with a concussion on Aug. 20 after dizziness in batting practice led to him being scratched from the lineup. The concussion occurred the night before, when Mauer took an Ike Davis foul tip off his mask against the Mets.
"We just have to wait and see," Gardenhire said. "I don't have a timetable. He came in today and says he feels actually pretty decent. He's had some rough days at home. ... He's getting better and it's just going to take time here."
Royals: Moustakas out of the lineup with strep
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was out of the lineup on Tuesday with strep throat.
"He started coming down with it yesterday," manager Ned Yost said. "He felt terrible with the heat and everything and got run down. He came here last night and woke up this morning with a 101 temperature. He's got all the white spots in the back of his throat, very bad sore throat."
Moustakas, who had been battling a calf strain, was pulled for a pinch-runner in the sixth inning on Monday in the Royals' 11-1 victory against Tampa Bay.
"I got him out after the sixth inning yesterday and it was more to protect his leg. I'm glad I did now," Yost said.
• The Royals hold a 13-4 lead in the season series with the Twins.
• Twins catcher Ryan Doumit has reached base safely in 12 of his last 13 games.
• Royals designated hitter Billy Butler is batting .390 (32-for-82) since Aug. 7 and .352 (50-for-142) since the All-Star break.
Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.