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Kansas City Royals in 1st Place After 70 Games for 1st Time in over a Decade

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Kansas City Royals in 1st Place After 70 Games for 1st Time in over a Decade
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Boasting a 39-32 record, the Kansas City Royals are sitting in first place in the American League Central after 70 or more games for the first time since 2003, per ESPN Stats & Info. Following Wednesday's 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers, the Royals have a slight 1.5-game advantage over the Tigers for the division lead.

The Royals are riding a 10-game winning streak, and their 13-3 June record is the best in all of baseball for the month. They haven't lost since June 6, when they fell in a tight 4-2 game to the New York Yankees.

The resurgent offense in Kansas City has to take much of the credit for the success, as the Royals were last in the AL in runs (197) and home runs (21) entering play back on May 29. That day, the Royals decided to promote Dale Sveum to hitting coach, reassigning Pedro Grifol. Since then, the Royals have scored the most runs in the AL (106), per MLB Stat of the Day.

The heart of the Royals order has stepped up in order for this drastic turnaround to occur. Kansas City got its No. 2 hitter, Omar Infante, back from the disabled list on May 26, and the 32-year-old Venezuelan has provided the team with 12 runs scored and 15 RBI in the meantime.

Alex Gordon has also heated up, hitting five home runs since May 29 and posting a .310 June batting average. Finally, Billy Butler has flipped the switch on his miserable start to 2014. His batting average sat at .235 on May 28, a mark that he's boosted to .271 with a 25-for-68 stretch at the plate.

Manager Ned Yost's pitching staff has also been steady, as a 3.18 team ERA in June is good for seventh in all of baseball. The staff has tallied 12 quality starts on the month, and 23-year-old flamethrower Yordano Ventura has three of them to go along with a 2.70 ERA and three straight victories.

The Royals will look to make it 11 wins in a row when they go for the series sweep Thursday afternoon in Detroit.

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