MINNEAPOLIS -- The Kansas City Royals came into this weekend's series against the Minnesota Twins with plenty still to play for. And after a sweep of the Twins at Target Field, the Royals will be rewarded with home field advantage all the way through the World Series.
Entering the weekend tied with the Toronto Blue Jays for the best record in the American League, the Royals need needed help from the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend in the form of at least one win. They got it Saturday, when Tampa scored twice in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win over the Jays.
That meant all the Royals needed to do Sunday was win, which they did by a score of 6-1. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, as the Rays posted eight runs in the first inning on Sunday in a laugher over Toronto.
"I'm glad we're done with the first part of our season. I'm glad we're done with the marathon, the 162," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "Now the fun starts.
"We got the big lead and guys started, a little bit, to go into conserve mode. It was like 'OK, let's save as much ammo as we can because when we get (to the playoffs), we're going to come out guns blazing."
"Either or, it's going to be a tough series," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "That's the postseason. You know going in, it's going to be tough no matter who you play."
Yost has not yet announced a Game 1 starter, but it's likely to be right-hander Yordano Ventura, a 13-game winner who has been lights out for the better part of the last six weeks.
Ventura was electric against the Twins on Saturday, giving up just one run on four hits in seven innings of work, striking out 11 men in a 5-1 victory.
The extra few days off should also allow a few Royals who are banged up some time to get healthy. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain fouled a ball off his knee on Wednesday and missed two games. He played Saturday but was given the day off again on Sunday.
Designated hitter Kendrys Morales has also been slowed by a sore left quadriceps. He didn't start the first two games of the series but was in the cleanup spot Sunday. With the Royals up by five runs early in the game and the Blue Jays down big in Tampa, Yost got Morales out of the game as a precaution.
"We're a little dinged up but three days is going to help," Yost said. "It was good to give guys a half a day off and get everybody out, healthy and feeling good.