For the first time in a decade, the Royals finished with a winning record through the month of July. They've been on fire since the All-Star break, going 10-2 and currently owning a Major League-best eight-game win streak. They've also won four straight series, including this set against the Twins.
On Thursday, Kansas City will go for the series sweep with ace right-hander James Shields on the mound. Newly-acquired outfielder Justin Maxwell is also expected to join the club at Target Field.
Maxwell, acquired prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline on Wednesday, is set to start as center fielder Lorenzo Cain continues to be sidelined with left groin tightness. Manager Ned Yost was also looking for another right-handed batter to face Twins starter Scott Diamond.
"With a lefty going, [Maxwell will] probably be in the lineup for his Royals debut," Yost said.
Maxwell hits lefties well with a .302 average this season, and gives the Royals a second right-handed-hitting outfielder in the lineup in addition to Cain. Alex Gordon, David Lough and Jarrod Dyson all bat left-handed.
Maxwell's had trouble getting into a rhythm this season after missing two months with a fractured left hand. He was hitting .241 with two homers and seven RBIs after batting .229 with a team-leading 18 homers and 53 RBIs last season for the Astros.
"I missed two months with my hand," he said. "The year definitely didn't go the way I wanted, but they always say try to finish strong, so that's what I'm looking forward to doing in the future."
Shields (5-7, 3.09 ERA) is set for his team-leading 23rd start. He scattered eight hits and two walks over seven shutout innings at the Chicago White Sox last Friday. It was the 18th time he'd held an opponent scoreless over at least seven innings.
The Royals' eight-game streak is their longest since 2003 and the pitchers have played a big role -- allowing just 12 earned runs in 75 innings for a 1.44 ERA in that span. The starters have a 6-0 record while the bullpen is 2-0 with four saves.
Diamond (5-9, 5.26 ERA) will be making his 20th start. It's his first outing of the season against the Royals, but the third of his career. He's 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA against the Royals with seven walks and eight strikeouts.
Diamond allowed just one run on five hits in 6 2/3 inning in his last start against the Mariners on Friday.
"I don't know what the numbers are, but it felt like we threw 80 percent fastballs," Diamond said. "We really just continued to attack the zone and kept them on their heels. It really paid off."
Royals: Finding success in division matchups
Though the Royals are in third place in the American League Central trailing the Tigers by seven games, but they've been successful against their divisional opponents.
The Royals have won five straight and seven of their last eight games against AL Central clubs. They're 26-19 overall against the division.
Twins: Mauer stays hot against KC
All-Star catcher Joe Mauer has hit safely in 36 of his last 43 games against Kansas City -- batting .390 (67-for-172) in a stretch dating to April 17, 2010. He's 4-for-8 with an RBI in this series.
In his career, Mauer is hitting .340 (163-for-479) with 33 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs and 90 RBIs in 127 games against the Royals.
• Royals hold a 9-3 lead in the seasons series against the Twins.
• Royals closer Greg Holland has recorded 21 straight saves which places him in third place in franchise history behind Joakim Soria (36) and Jeff Montgomery (24).
• The Twins were 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position in Wednesday night's 4-3 loss.
Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.