Royals play Twins in 1st game since postseason elimination

BY foxsports • September 29, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When the Kansas City Royals take the field Thursday against the Minnesota Twins, for the first time since near the end of the 2013 season, there will be nothing much at stake.

The Royals, who have been in the past two World Series and won it all last November, were officially eliminated from the postseason Wednesday night. While they scored three runs with two out in the eighth to pull out a 5-2 triumph over the Twins, they were soon ousted from the wildcard playoff race when the Baltimore Orioles rallied with a two-run ninth to beat the Toronto Blue Jays.

"The team hadn't lost the fight at all," said Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who hit a two-run homer, his 25th, in the third inning Wednesday. "It just didn't work out for us this year.

"A lot of ups and downs, a lot of injuries, but I still think there are a lot of positives to take from this year."

He mentioned the contributions of rookies Cheslor Cuthbert and Whit Merrifield, "proving what they can do at this level."

"I think it really gives us a lot of enthusiasm heading into next year and it gives us a lot more weapons," Hosmer said.

Hosmer said it would "definitely be hard" to watch the postseason.

"We've been right in the thick of things the last couple of years, but that's just baseball," Hosmer said. "That's how it goes. We're still confident in the guys we have here. We're still confident in our team. We're hoping we can get pretty much everybody back and see if we can make another run at it."

The Royals need one more victory to have their fourth consecutive winning season.

Meanwhile, the young Twins have 102 losses, matching the most defeats since the club moved to Minnesota in 1961. The 1982 club, also, lost 102. It represents the most for the franchise since the 1949 Washington Senators lost 104.

When Kennys Vargas hit a two-run homer in the sixth it was the Twins' first multiple-run inning in 11 games. That broke a streak of 106 innings with one or no runs. According to Elias, it is the longest such streak in MLB since the 1942 Philadelphia Phillies went 109 innings without scoring more than one run.

"Was it that long? It seemed longer," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I know we had over a hundred innings, which is somewhat unfathomable in today's game to imagine you could go through a period offensively of not finding a way to put up more than one run in a given inning. I get that."

The Twins are 0-9 at Kauffman Stadium this season. They have never gone winless in Kansas City since the Royals' 1969 inception.

Right-hander Kyle Gibson will try to get the Twins first win of the year Thursday at Kansas City in the series finale. Gibson is 5-4 with a 3.38 ERA in 10 career starts against the Royals, allowing 24 earned runs in 64 innings with 22 walks and 43 strikeouts.

Gibson, a Missouri alumnus, is 2-2 with a 2.25 ERA in four career starts at Kansas City. Don't be surprised if catcher Drew Butera starts for the Royals. He is 4-for-5 with a home run off Gibson, while Salvador Perez is 3-for-25, .120. Alex Gordon is 9-for-25, .360, and Alcides Escobar is 10-for-29, .345, versus Gibson.

The Royals will counter with left-hander Danny Duffy, who is 7-0 with a 3.43 ERA this year at home. Duffy, who has held left-handed hitters to a .183 average, is 5-1 with a 2.29 ERA in his career against the Twins.