The Kansas City Royals are not out of the AL wild-card race, not with their pitching being as good as it has been of late.
The Royals were thought to be just about done at the end of July, but they're right in the middle of things now. They won their ninth straight game Tuesday, beating the Marlins, 1-0. It's the third-longest winning streak by any team this season, trailing only the Indians' 14-game streak and Cubs' 11-game streak.
The Royals got their second shutout in the last three games. They've allowed one run or fewer in seven of their last eight games, allowing nine runs total in that stretch. No other team has allowed fewer than 20 in that span.
The Royals have three shutouts in August after totaling three from April to July.
Yordano Ventura continued his strong post All-Star break run. His six scoreless innings lowered his second half ERA to 2.65. Ventura had a 5.15 ERA before the break.
In Ventura's case, an extra mph on the fastball has made a huge difference. He was throwing it an average of 95.4 mph before the break and getting misses on 11 percent of swings. But since the break, the pitch has averaged 96.3 mph and netted a 19 percent miss rate. The last three starts, he has averaged 97.5, 97.4 and 97.4 mph, respectively.
A new power arm
Rookie lefty Matt Strahm continued to impress, pitching a scoreless seventh inning. After allowing a run in his major league debut, Strahm has thrown eight straight scoreless outings, totaling nine innings, in which he has struck out 16.
Strahm was a starter at Double-A Arkansas for most of the season but moved to the bullpen at the very end of his stint there, whiffing 12 in 6⅓ innings before his recall.
Thus far Strahm is notable for his 94 mph fastball and his reverse splits. Right-handed batters are 1-for-21 with 11 strikeouts against him (and 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts Tuesday).
Herrera at the end
The Royals' bullpen has the best ERA in the majors in August (1.54), nearly a full run better than the next-best team, the Blue Jays (2.52). They also rank best in the majors in WHIP (0.84) and hard-hit rate (7 percent).