Royals hoist AL Central flag, then fall to Indians 6-0

The raising of this flag was, by far, the high point of the night for the Royals.

Peter Aiken/Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A day after the Kansas City Royals clinched their first division crown since 1985, manager Ned Yost opted to sit most of his starters.

Ben Zobrist and Alex Rios were the only regulars in the lineup, which included four rookies. That almost resulted in the Royals being no-hit by Cleveland right-hander Carlos Carrasco.

Carrasco pitched a one-hitter, allowing only a seventh-inning single, and struck out a career-high 15 to lead the Cleveland Indians over the Royals 6-0 Friday night.

"I don’t really get nervous. I was a little concerned," Yost said and laughed that Carrasco might throw a no-hitter.

The Royals didn’t come close to a hit until Rios lined a single to center with one out in the seventh.

Yost said if Rios had not singled, he would have used "for sure" Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez as pinch hitters in the final two innings.

"Carrasco would have beaten anybody tonight with that stuff," Yost said. "That’s as good of stuff as we’ve seen all year long."

With the defeat and Toronto’s victory, the Blue Jays are only a game back of the Royals for the best record in the American League and home-field advantage in the postseason.

"I do not regret it one single bit," Yost said of resting his starters. "Again, it’s important these guys accomplished something special. I wanted them to celebrate it. I didn’t want them to cut their celebration short, thinking, ‘OK we’ve got to play tomorrow.’

"We’ll get back to business (Saturday). I’m not going to worry about that. This was their day, where they can sit back and appreciate the accomplishment, but business as usual tomorrow."

Carrasco (14-11) was trying to pitch Cleveland’s first no-hitter since 1981, when Len Barker threw a perfect game.

On July 1, Carrasco was within one strike of a no-hitter against Tampa Bay when Joey Butler singled on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth.

After Rios’ single, he struck out the next six hitters. Carrasco’s 15 strikeouts were the most by a pitcher against the Royals since Roger Clemens struck out 18 on Aug. 28, 1998.

This was the sixth time this season the Indians took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning.

Jose Ramirez, Abraham Almonte and Roberto Perez homered.

Ramirez homered in the first and Almonte connected in the second for a two-run drive. Perez hit a two-run homer in the seventh off Franklin Morales.

Carrasco fanned every Royals batter at least once. He struck out Zobrist, Paulo Orlando and Jonny Gomes three times. All of Carrasco’s strikeouts were swinging, as the Royals chased his sharp-breaking pitches out of the strike zone. He walked two.

Edinson Volquez (13-9) yielded three runs on four hits, while walking two and striking out seven over six innings.

"It was a great night for Carrasco and a bad night for us," Volquez said. "They got me in the first two innings. That was the whole game for me."

TRAINER’S ROOM

Indians: LF Michael Brantley was a late scratch after batting practice, missing his third straight game with a right shoulder injury. He hurt the shoulder on a diving catch attempt Tuesday at Minnesota.

UP NEXT

Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .158 average in four road starts.

Royals: RHP Kris Medlen threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings to win 2-0 on Sept. 15 at Cleveland. He is 10-2 with a 1.99 ERA in 25 career September appearances.