Left-hander Danny Duffy would like to have a longer outing Sunday against the Giants than he had Tuesday night at Arizona. He was pulled after just five innings because the Royals had a 10-run lead and they wanted to give Duffy a break so he's ready for the stretch run.
That he understands.
"Absolutely. You never want to come out of a game but, in the same sense, I know exactly why they did it and I totally understand it," Duffy said. "It means a lot to me that they care about me enough to make sure that I'm rested and healthy. So even though I didn't want to come out, I totally agree with the decision."
Duffy came back from Tommy John surgery just last season, so the Royals don't want to tax him unnecessarily, but Duffy isn't aware of any innings limit on him.
"Unless something crazy happens, I'll be totally ready to go," he said.
Duffy is caught up in the Royals' growing push to reach the postseason for the first time since 1985. They'll shoot for a sweep of the Giants and a seven-game winning streak Sunday.
"It's exciting and you'd be lying to yourself if you said it wasn't. It's early August and we've still got almost two months left in the season, but this is something we've been working for a long time -- to be contending. And we want to keep it right where it's at," he said.
"We're excited that we hopefully can return to all the fans what they've given us since I've been in Royal blue."
He'll be opposed Sunday by Tim Lincecum, who's compiled a 2.13 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break.
He's been one of the Giants' lone bright spots, as they've gone 20-34 since June 8 and are 3 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the National League West. He'll likely need another strong outing, since the Giants have scored just three runs in their last three games.
Royals: Butler contributing on defense
Billy Butler's bat has been hot, but he's been solid at first base, too, since taking over from Eric Hosmer (hand injury). He's started 13 games at first.
"Billy's done a phenomenal job since Hoz got hurt, both offensively and defensively," manager Ned Yost said.
Butler has hit in six consecutive games, going 12-for-23 (.521) in that span.
"It had been awhile since Billy was putting up Billy-like numbers. But you always knew that, hopefully, he was going to break out and start putting some offense up on the board for us. And he's done that," Yost said.
"He's been impressive offensively for us the last week or 10 days, but he's been equally impressive defensively. Billy's kept himself ready all season long -- he's taken hundreds of ground balls over there at first base every single day in case we needed him. And when [Hosmer] broke his hand, we needed him. ... He's made plays on balls I didn't think he'd get to and he's made them easily."
While standing in for Hosmer at first base, Butler has hit .360 (18-for-50) with five doubles, three homers and eight RBIs. Butler, usually a designated hitter, has often said he feels better at the plate while also playing in the field.
"I'm sure there's some merit to it because it does probably take his mind off [bad at-bats], but we're a pitching and defense team," Yost said. "And I can't even overstate how good he's done for us over there. He's really done a nice job."
Giants: Infield shakeup
San Francisco's infield might look a bit unorthodox in the next couple of games.
That's because Giants manager Bruce Bochy said shortstop Brandon Crawford would be given "at least couple of days" rest to work out of his current slump (2-for-25 in his last seven games).
Rookie Matt Duffy filled in for Crawford on Saturday night, and it looks likely that Duffy will again slide into short in the series finale Sunday.
"It gives the chance for [Duffy] to get at least a couple games there at short. It's where he'd been playing all year [in the Minors] and it's worked for him for the most part," Bochy said.
Duffy was optioned to Double-A Richmond on Thursday, only to be recalled 24 hours later when Brandon Belt went on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Duffy started Friday night at second base and collected a pair of hits, including an RBI single.
"It looked like he handled it well last night," Bochy said Saturday, adding, "he's a tough kid that can deal with some things that you have to deal with up here."
• Danny Duffy has held opponents to a .189 batting average (31-for-164) at home this season to go along with a 2.66 home ERA.
• Bochy said he planned on putting Buster Posey at designated hitter Sunday and giving Andrew Susac a start at catcher.
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.