The Kansas City Royals received plenty of flak for trading two of their top prospects for James Shields in the offseason, but he's proving to be a major reason they're heading into August with legitimate playoff hopes.
Shields takes the mound as visiting Kansas City seeks a ninth consecutive win Thursday against the Twins -- and its first sweep in Minnesota in 14 years.
The Royals dealt Wil Myers and pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, along with two other minor leaguers, to Tampa Bay for Shields on Dec. 10 in a trade that was made with the present in mind.
Kansas City (53-51) doesn't have many complaints right now as it is just 4 12 games behind Cleveland for the AL's second wild-card spot. The Royals haven't been above .500 this late since finishing 83-79 in 2003.
They started that season 9-0, which also is the last time they've had a winning streak of that length.
"We're just hoping to continue it every day," said Billy Butler, who drove in two runs in Wednesday's 4-3 win over ...