James Shields seems to be gearing up for the stretch run. He certainly appears to be caught up in the spirit.
Over his last six starts, Shields has posted a 1.99 ERA, and although his record is a modest 2-2 in that time, it's a marked improvement over his previous seven starts in which his ERA was 5.61.
The Royals' recent hot streak has put them in contention for a postseason berth, and they'll need Shields' experience and leadership as the days dwindle down to a precious few. He takes the mound Saturday against the Giants.
He won his first game this month at Oakland and, historically, August has been good for him -- 26-12 with a 3.15 ERA. Only CC Sabathia has more August wins (29) since 2006.
This is Shields' first outing against San Francisco, and he now has 10 wins on the season for the eighth straight year after an eight-inning, two-run stint against the A's.
"Just tried to stay consistent throughout my career," Shields said Sunday. "Having another double-digit [wins] season is nice. Hopefully these next nine games or so I can get a [few] more."
Tim Hudson will pitch for the Giants. He has a 3-3 record with a 4.09 ERA in 10 career starts against the Royals, including a 3-1 record with a 3.51 ERA in four career outings at Kauffman Stadium.
Hudson's last outing was Monday against the Mets, when he gave up two earned runs and seven hits in five innings. The Giants won, 4-3, but Hudson didn't earn the win. He's now 8-8 with a 2.74 ERA this season.
Royals: Yost wild about winning division
Those 11 division titles during his coaching days with the Braves taught Royals manager Ned Yost a lesson about late-season distractions.
"I've been through this a lot, especially in Atlanta," Yost said. "If you start focusing on everything else but today's game, it's not good. You have to just blot everything out. All that stuff -- that's for you guys [in the media] to do. For us, it's just go out and play good baseball and win a game today."
Certainly, there's a tendency for players to look at other aspects of a race and there's sure to be considerable hoopla in Kansas City, which hasn't had a postseason team since 1985.
"It gets a little more, I don't want to say hyped up, but it does," Yost said. "But when you break it all down, it's a baseball game. We've got to go out today and play a baseball game, and we've got to do everything we can do to win it."
Giants: Belt back on disabled list
The Giants sent first baseman Brandon Belt to the seven-day concussion disabled list Friday before their series opener with the Royals due to his recurring symptoms.
Belt, who is hitting .237 with 11 home runs and 24 RBIs, just made his return from the disabled list a week ago from a concussion that sidelined him for 12 games.
"Yesterday he started showing some symptoms. We had some concerns," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's important to take care of Brandon. The symptoms are there again."
• Of the Royals' remaining 48 games, 32 are against teams currently under the .500 mark -- Indians (six), White Sox (seven), Twins (seven), Rangers (six), Red Sox (four) and Rockies (two).
• The Giants recalled Matt Duffy from Double-A Richmond to take Belt's spot.
Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.