The Kansas City Royals — baseball’s hottest team by far — are suddenly back in the thick of the things in the hunt for the American League Central crown.
James Shields looked ace-like in Saturday’s 5-0 blanking of the Giants, allowing just four hits (and no runs) over nine innings while striking out five for his first shutout since September 2012. And outfielder Alex Gordon, the second-best player in the game this season according to FanGraphs’ WAR, went 2-for-4 with a homer, a single, and two runs scored.
The Royals are 9-1 since July 30 and a mere 1 1/2 games back of Detroit in the AL Central standings.
If the 2014 season ended today, it would be Anaheim hosting Kansas City in the AL Wild Card Game.
Your box scores and recaps from Saturday …
Indians 3, Yankees 0
Tigers 2, Blue Jays 3 (10 innings)
Cardinals 3, Orioles 10
Rays 4, Cubs 0
Padres 2, Pirates 1
Giants 0, Royals 5
Dodgers 1, Brewers 4
Marlins 4, Reds 3
Rangers 3, Astros 8
Mets 2, Phillies 1 (11 innings)
Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 14
Twins 4, Athletics 9
White Sox 2, Mariners 1 (10 innings)
Nationals 4, Braves 1 (11 innings)
Red Sox 4, Angels 5 (19 innings)
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.