Opinion

James Shields starts for Royals with chance to clinch playoff berth against Chicago

James Shields
James Shields The Kansas City Star

CHICAGO – The symmetry is fitting. On Thursday night, the Royals could have the chance to clinch a berth in the playoffs for the first time since 1985. The man on the mound will be James Shields.

There is little point, this late in the season, recounting the tumult that accompanied his arrival. But for Shields, and for a front office that absorbed slings and arrows after The Trade, the feeling should be sweet.

If, of course, Kansas City wins and Seattle loses. The magic number for the playoffs is two.

The Royals appear bound for the Wild Card game. They will play Oakland. The venue has yet to be determined. If the two teams post identical records, Kansas City would host. But the matchup should be spectacular. Shields would duel with lefty Jon Lester.

Here are the matchups for this weekend at U.S. Cellular Field:

Thursday, 7:10 p.m.: RHP James Shields (14-8, 3.18 ERA) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (9-10, 3.22 ERA).

Friday, 7:10 p.m.: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (12-11, 4.28 ERA) vs. RHP Hector Noesi (8-10, 4.39 ERA).

Saturday, 6:35 p.m.: LHP Danny Duffy (9-11, 2.32 ERA) vs. LHP John Danks (10-11, 4.82 ERA).

Sunday, 1:10 p.m.: RHP Yordano Ventura (14-10, 3.07 ERA) vs. RHP Chris Bassitt (1-1, 3.65 ER).

FROM THE STAR

With his fourth consecutive shaky performance, Jason Vargas cast doubt on his readiness for the playoff rotation. The game story.

The Royals could pop some bottles soon. Vahe Gregorian wrote a column about it.

Brandon Finnegan wore the loss on Thursday. But he’s still impressed observers with his performance in September. He could begin 2015 with the big-league club.

Christian Colon flew to Arizona to test his broken finger in instructional league games.

THE ROYALS’ PLAYOFF PERCENTAGE (ACCORDING TO FANGRAPHS)

99.6 percent.

THE STANDINGS IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

KC trails Detroit by two games.

THE STANDINGS IN THE WILD CARD RACE

KC leads Seattle by three games.

HERE IS SOME ROCK MUSIC

"Can’t Be Too Responsible" by Avi Buffalo.

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @McCulloughStar.

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