While the only team ahead of them made the biggest splash on the last day of the trade deadline; and while other teams in the American League Wildcard picture tinkered with their roster for a playoff run, the Kansas City Royals were quiet on the last day for teams to make major adjustments to their lineups.
Sitting three games over .500 on July 31, the Royals were criticized for not going out and trading prospects for a proven MLB talent that could help Kansas City get to the playoffs for the first time since 1985, when the Royals beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. But while the Royals did not make much noise in transaction news, they are making the most commotion in the win column.
James Shields threw his first complete game - and first shutout - of 2014 on Saturday. The ace of the staff's masterpiece scattered four San Francisco hits over nine innings and notched KC's sixth win in a row. The Royals have now won 14 of their last 17 games dating back to July 22.
Though the offense has been improving, the Royals have been winning with typically fantastic pitching. From the bullpen to the starters, Kansas City has allowed just 11 runs during its current six-game winning streak. Saturday's win was the first shutout and no team has scored more than three in a game during the streak. The Royals have outscored opponents by a score of 35-11.
The win on Saturday and a Detroit extra-innings loss against the Blue Jays brought the Royals to within 1.5 games of the lead in the AL Central. After acquiring David Price in the last hour of the trade deadline, the Tigers were expected to run away with the division. And while they still have plenty of time to do such a thing, the Royals don't appear to be going anywhere. Saturday's win also assures the Royals will remain in control of sole possession of the second Wild Card spot. Seattle is still just half a game behind the Royals for the last playoff spot in the American League.
This is the team's second-longest winning streak of the season. Kansas City reeled off 10 in a row from June 7-19, but played sub-.500 baseball both before and after the long run. The current run over the last three weeks has KC back to nine more wins than losses.
Kansas City plays one more with San Francisco at home tomorrow before welcoming the other team by the Bay to town. Fans will continue to pack Kauffman Stadium when the Royals take on the A's this next week - hungry to return to the playoffs.