The Royals scored twice in the eighth inning in a 3-1 win over the Twins at Target Field, perhaps ending Minnesota's hopes of an improbable trip to the playoffs.
The Twins entered the night a game back of the Houston Astros in the race for the second wild card in the American League. Houston jumped out to a big early lead against the Arizona Diamondbacks, posting a number on the scoreboard for the nearly 32,000 fans to see.
In the seventh inning in the desert, the Astros led the Diamondback, 11-2.
Twins players saw it too, adding to a postgame mood in the clubhouse that was as glum as it has been all season.
"All we can do is just keep battling and see what happens," Twins right fielder Torii Hunter. "This one is a hard one to swallow."
Minnesota had its chances.
Royals right hander Chris Young was on the ropes in the second inning. The Twins opened up a 1-0 lead, piecing together a leadoff single with a passed ball and two more singles with just one out.
But Young got a strikeout from No. 9 batter Eduardo Escobar and got All-Star second baseman Brian Dozier to ground into a fielder's choice to end the threat.
"We let him off the hook there a little bit and then he got locked in," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
The lanky veteran retired 15 of the next 16 men he faced and didn't allow a hit the rest of the night, pitching into the seventh inning.
"I was just trying to be aggressive and execute a game plan," Young said. "I executed some pitches and made some bad ones; they were foul balls or takes tonight where other nights they get punished. Just a great team win."
The victory was important for the Royals too, as they kept pace with the Toronto Blue Jays for the best record in the American League and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-4 earlier in the night and both teams now sit at 93-67 with two games remaining.
"We didn't have home field advantage last year and we did fine and the only series we did have it we didn't win," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The reason we want home field advantage is for our fans. We feel like we can win anywhere, but our fans and the support they've been giving us over the year and the playoffs last year has been unbelievable."
Twins starter Ervin Santana took the loss despite allowing just two runs on four hits in seven-plus innings of work. He allowed a leadoff single to Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar to start the eighth which sparked Kansas City's two-run rally.
Left-hander Glen Perkins entered and promptly served up a double to Royals designated hitter Ben Zobrist on the first pitch, which gave the Royals the lead for good. Third baseman Mike Moustakas added an RBI single to right field later in the inning for an important insurance run.
"You can feel it, it's deflating for sure," Molitor said. "But you have to find a way. We have to be back on the field [early Saturday] and you have to try and find a way to post a win. Now we need a lot more help than we did heading into tonight, that's for sure."
Zobrist finished with a pair of hits and a walk, scoring a run and knocking in another. Center fielder Jarrod Dyson also had a pair of hits, getting a double in each the third and fifth innings. His leadoff two-base hit in the third sparked a quick answer from the Royals; he scored two batters later on a ground out by first baseman Eric Hosmer to tie the game.
NOTES: Royals OF Lorenzo Cain did not play on Friday. Cain is resting his right knee after he fouled a ball off of it on Wednesday night. ... Royals DH Kendrys Morales was out of the lineup as he nurses a sore left quad. ... Royals C Salvador Perez received a night off on Friday because the time of Saturday's game was moved from 6 p.m. to noon. Manager Ned Yost said he expects Perez to be in the lineup for both games this weekend. ... Royals RHP Greg Holland's Tommy John surgery was performed without issue on Friday in Los Angeles. Holland could miss the entire 2016 season. ... The Twins still have not announced a starting pitcher for the regular season finale on Sunday. ... The Royals and Twins will play the second game of a three-game series at Target Field on Saturday afternoon. Kansas City RHP Yordano Ventura (12-8, 4.20 ERA) will oppose Minnesota LHP Tommy Milone (9-5, 4.04 ERA).