7/31/2013 8:35 P.M. ET
Pitching key ingredient in Royals' hot streak
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- During the Royals' season-best seven-game winning streak through Tuesday night, the most significant statistics centered on the pitching staff.
In those seven games, the staff gave up just nine earned runs in 66 innings for a 1.23 ERA, best in the Majors for that period. Next was Pittsburgh's 2.23 ERA. Opponents hit just .199 against the Royals.
The starting pitchers had a 5-0 record and 1.33 ERA in the seven games and the bullpen was 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA.
The hitters? Not too shabby either. The team average was .273 with an on-base percentage of .323. The Royals scored 31 runs with 18 extra-base hits including seven homers.
Royals still looking to upgrade after Deadline
MINNEAPOLIS -- Moving into position as a possible contender in the American League Central had Royals general manager Dayton Moore moving cautiously as he considered trade options prior to Wednesday afternoon's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"Our players have put us in a position where we have an opportunity to be in a pennant race in the final two months of the season, so we're going to continue to push forward and do everything we can to give our baseball team and our fans something to play for," Moore said.
The Royals shed a five-game losing streak that carried them into the All-Star break and emerged by going 9-2 up to the Trade Deadline, pushing one game over .500 with Tuesday's 7-2 win over the Twins.
"We were never really in the mindset that we were going to detract from especially from how well we played going into the second half," Moore said. "We felt that this is very talented group of baseball players and we wanted to do everything we could to try to enhance this baseball team and give us the best chance to win going forward, so we were looking on a lot of different levels on how to improve this team and we're going to continue to look. There are two months left to the baseball season and there's potentially the opportunity to improve our team. So we're going to continue to evaluate and look for ways to upgrade."
The Royals made one move on Wednesday, acquiring outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Astros for Minor League prospect Kyle Smith.
Kansas City was reportedly looking at adding offense to the second-base position and were linked to the Angels' Howie Kendrick, the White Sox's Gordon Beckham and the Brewers' Rickie Weeks, but nothing developed.
Butler playing with mysterious neck stiffness
MINNEAPOLIS -- Billy Butler is dealing with a stiff neck but has stayed in the lineup as the Royals' designated hitter.
Butler said the condition was not due to a game-related incident and the cause is a mystery.
"I can't really tell you anything. It's not from anything, it's just not moving very well," Butler said.
In Tuesday night's 7-2 victory, Butler went 0-for-5 to end his personal 18-game hitting streak against the Twins. In those 18 games, he hit .457 (32-for-70).
"I couldn't quite get turned to the pitcher last night," he said. "It's not feeling very good."
Cain's return delayed due to groin tightness
MINNEAPOLIS -- Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain had a slight setback in his recovery from a tight left groin and didn't play against the Twins on Wednesday night.
Cain tested his groin successfully during pregame workouts on Tuesday night and was poised to play if needed in the late innings of the 7-2 win over the Twins.
"He felt OK yesterday during workouts and in the eighth inning, he started getting loose in case something developed and felt a little tightness in his groin so we shut him down," manager Ned Yost said. "Take no chances, see if we can have him available [Thursday afternoon for the series finale]."
Second baseman Chris Getz, who has a sore left knee, was also out of the picture on Wednesday night and Miguel Tejada again started. But Getz is close to being ready, Yost said.
"We'll probably wait until New York with a lefty going tomorrow," Yost said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.