The decisive point possibly for the Royals in Thursday’s 7-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins occurred hours before the first pitch at Target Field.

Outfielder Lorenzo Cain pronounced himself ready to play after testing his sore left groin with a full on-field workout.

That prompted a late lineup change to put Cain into center field and he responded by making a spectacular catch at the wall that snatched away a two-run homer from Trevor Plouffe in the fifth inning.

“Did it look good?” Cain asked through a smile. “I got a good jump on it. I was able to get back take a peek at the wall get up and make a play. I was pumped up. I robbed a home run.

“I was kind of excited and it got the team excited. Then we came in and got the bats going.”

And the Royals roll on.

They have now won nine in a row for the first time opening the 2003 season at 9-0. They head to New York to play the Mets with their first 6-0 start to a road trip since 1980 after sweeps in Chicago and Minnesota.

And it’s August! If it’s too early to start talking pennant races and postseason chases in other places fine. For the Royals and their fans this is like April in Paris.

“I didn’t think early in the season that we had everything together” second baseman Miguel Tejada said. “But I remember when I was with the A’s the first two months we couldn’t get the chemistry together.

“That’s like this team. You can see the difference now. We know how great our pitching is. Now our hitting (is coming along) and we’re playing good defense. We’re starting to get big hits in big situations.”

Let’s start with that Cain play.

Royals starter James Shields while he labored at times carried a 5-2 lead into the fifth. And after yielding a leadoff single to Joe Mauer Shields retired the next two hitters before Plouffe crushed a drive to deep center.

Cain retreated on the ball and made a leaping catch at the bullpen wall that pulled back a two-run homer in front of the Royals’ relief corps which erupted in celebration.

“That fence is higher than it looks” Cain said. “I got up as high as I could stuck my glove over and made a play. I don’t ever remember pulling one back but I’ve made a lot of plays against the wall.”

Shields raised his arms in a triumphant touchdown gesture and if you’ve been watching the last two weeks you knew this one was over.

Yes a big play.

“Oh hands down” Shields said. “It’s a one-run ballgame right there (if the ball goes out). I’m probably going to throw five innings rather than six if he doesn’t catch that ball. He’s been doing that all season long.”

The Royals then knocked out Minnesota starter Scott Diamond 5-10 in the next inning the sixth after newcomer Justin Maxwell walked and Alcides Escobar followed with a single.

Anthony Swarzak replaced Diamond with two on and no outs — and nearly escaped. But Eric Hosmer avoided a double-play grounder by beating the relay and then stole second.