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KC@CLE: Shields allows one earned run over six frames

Perhaps the Royals can take a few things away from this week's series against the Indians when it comes to one-run games.

The Indians are 18-8 in such contests. The Royals, meanwhile, are 14-17 -- with their 31 one-run games the most in the American League. Although that isn't the only reason the second-place Indians are ahead of the third-place Royals by five games in the AL Central standings, it is certainly something to think about.

After all, the first two games of this series -- which concludes on Independence Day at Kauffman Stadium -- have been decided by one run.

"We've been playing a lot of one-run games lately and we're right there in every single one of them," Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said. "We come to this clubhouse after every game and we're wondering what happened. We feel like we should have won all those games."

That's hard to do against a team on a roll like the Indians, who have won five of their last six and are 7-3 with one game remaining on a tough road trip.

Royals right-hander James Shields looks to slow down the Indians on Thursday when he faces Cleveland righty Ubaldo Jimenez. The Royals have won Shields' last six starts after losing the previous five with the right-hander posting a 2.99 ERA and nine quality starts since May 6, despite sporting a 1-4 record.

Jimenez is on a similar roll when it comes to stats -- allowing two runs or fewer in nine of his past 12 starts -- but can't match Shields' durability. Jimenez hasn't lasted past the sixth inning in each of his last five outings.

Indians: Santana growing behind dish
Although the Indians entered Wednesday with a Major League-leading 48 wild pitches -- 33 coming with Carlos Santana as catcher -- manager Terry Francona said he's seen improvement from Santana behind the plate as the season's progressed.

"I think he's gotten himself in a position now where he can show his athleticism," Francona said. "He's working lower, so he's not working up to down, he's working down to up. And it's very noticeable. I give [bench coach and former catcher Sandy Alomar Jr.] a lot of credit and give Carlos a lot of credit."

• Second baseman Jason Kipnis, who was named American League Player of the Month for June, has hit in a career-high 14 straight games, during which he's batting .458 (22-for-48) with 13 extra-base hits, including four homers. He also has reached safely in 34 straight.

Royals: Halfway home
Kansas City played its 81st game of the season on Wednesday, marking the halfway point of the season. And although its record (39-42) is only slightly better than last year's 37-44 mark, there are other numbers that better explain the Royals' improvement.

This year's starting rotation has a 3.95 ERA, compared to 5.00 mark through the same point last season. The starters also have 59 starts of at least six innings and 29 of seven or more, compared to 34 and 11, respectively, last year.

And don't forget about the defense. This year's squad has committed 48 errors at the season's midway point, compared to 59 miscues through 81 games last year.

• Designated hitter Billy Butler has a nine-game hitting streak, during which he's batting .371.

Worth noting
• FOX Sports Kansas City will pay tribute to the Moore, Okla., tornado victims during pregame coverage of Thursday's game, beginning at 12:30 p.m. CT.

• Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has hit safely in seven straight games (.385), while Kansas City's Eric Hosmer has a six-game hitting streak.

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