With Toronto being blown out in Tampa, the KC Royals clinched home-field advantage in the MLB postseason. With their 6-1 victory in Minnesota, the Royals finished the regular season with the best record in the American League (95-67 and fourth best in baseball).
The Royals offense got to Twins starter Ricky Nolasco in the 2nd inning, with Mike Moustakas working a leadoff walk. With two on and nobody out, Alex Gordon drove in the game’s first run with a double. Alex Rios (who was one of three Royals starters to play the entire game) followed with a two-run double.
Salvador Perez hit a two out, two-run home run in the top of the 3rd inning. It was his 21st of the season, giving him the most homers in a season by a Royals catcher.
Starter Johnny Cueto earned his 11th victory of the season, as he battled through five innings. He allowed a run on six hits and four walks while striking out four. Cueto needed 100 pitches to get through five innings and is expected to start Game 2 of the ALDS against either Houston or the NY Yankees (AL Wild Card is hosted by the Yankees on Tuesday night).
Edinson Volquez, the expected Game 3 starter in the ALDS, entered in relief in the sixth and pitched two scoreless innings after walking the first two batters he faced (0H, 3K). Volquez reached the 200-inning plateau for the first time in his career.
Franklin Morales allowed a hit in the eighth and Luke Hochevar worked around a leadoff fielding error to finish off the Twins in the ninth.
The first lineup change came in the fifth, when Jonny Gomes pinch-hit for DH Kendrys Morales (0-for-1, BB, RS). Gomes flied out in that at-bat, but would single in the seventh. The next change came in the bottom of the sixth when Drew Butera entered the game to catch for Perez. Butera would go 0-for-1 with a walk.
In the 7th inning, Christian Colon pinch-hit for Moose and singled. The Royals had the bases loaded and one out in that inning, but Twins reliever Ryan O’Rourke entered and struck out both batters he faced to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, both Cheslor Cuthbert and Paulo Orlando entered on defense at first base and left field respectively. Both went 0-for-1 and Cuthbert ended up moving to third base in the eighth.
In the eighth and after Jarrod Dyson worked a leadoff walk, Francisco Pena pinch-hit for Alcides Escobar. Pena collected his first big league hit, a single to center off of O’Rourke. Pena went in to catch, Butera moved to first base, CC moved to shortstop, and that is when Cuthbert moved to third base.
*After collecting three hits on Saturday night, Lorenzo Cain was out of Sunday’s lineup with his knee still bothering him. The bone bruise will continue to hamper LoCain throughout the postseason.