Preview: Shields, Royals wrap up series vs. Indians

James Shields has been more than reliable in his first season for the Kansas City Royals, while the team’s offense hasn’t necessarily returned the favor.

But with the way Eric Hosmer has been swinging the bat lately, Shields could have a good chance to increase his deceptively low win total Wednesday.

He tries to win his second straight start for the first time this season as Kansas City hosts the Cleveland Indians.

Shields (3-6, 2.99 ERA) has given the Royals (39-42) a chance to win almost every time out, posting quality starts in 14 of his 17 outings. And while Kansas City has won his last six starts, only the most recent resulted in a victory for Shields as he yielded three runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 9-3 win at Minnesota on Friday. He had been winless over his last 10 outings.

His 3.53 run-support average is the AL’s third-lowest despite the Royals’ nine runs of support his last time out, powered by a season-high four homers.

Shields ranks ninth in the AL in ERA, but is tied for 70th in wins.

“We won the last six of my games, and I have no doubt in my mind that we’re just going to keep going up from here,” Shields said.

Friday’s contest also saw the first time he received a lead of more than one run since his last victory April 30.

“Hopefully we can put up more offensive outings like that for Shields,” said Hosmer, who homered twice in Shields’ last start.

Shields likely would have been pleased with Wednesday’s output, as Kansas City claimed a 6-5 victory over Cleveland with Hosmer again at the crux of the attack. He went 2 for 4 and provided the go-ahead homer in the seventh inning – his sixth in 11 games and eighth this season.

Hosmer was hitting .261 and slugging .333 with one homer and 16 RBIs in 50 games through May. Since June 1, he’s batting .305 with a .551 slugging percentage, as well as seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 29 games.

Additionally, the Royals’ 51 home runs rank second-to-last in the majors, but their 13 over the last nine games rank among the highest totals in baseball dating back to June 23.

After having their winning streak snapped at five, the Indians (45-39) turn to Ubaldo Jimenez, who looks to continue his success on the road, where he owns a 3.10 ERA in nine games compared to a 6.82 mark at home.

But he failed to record a decision in Cleveland’s 4-3 road win over the White Sox on Saturday, yielding three runs and nine hits over five innings while striking out eight. Jimenez threw 112 pitches.

“You know what, he limited damage,” manager Terry Francona told the team’s official website. “It was a high pitch count, and he didn’t get as deep into the game as we hoped, but he gave us a chance to win.”

Jason Kipnis was 2 for 4 Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, during which he’s hitting .479 with 20 RBIs.

Alex Gordon left in the sixth with a possible concussion and bruised right hip after trying to catch Kipnis’ flyball, which would up an inside-the-park home run. Gordon, who leads the Royals with 93 hits, will be re-evaluated Thursday.

“We’ll just monitor it day to day,” manager Ned Yost said.

Michael Bourn was 2 for 5 after missing two games for the birth of his daughter.

Nick Swisher is 8 for 45 (.178) against Shields with 15 strikeouts.