The Royals came into the weekend series looking to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and they did exactly that by sweeping the Twins. Minnesota was outscored 14-3 over the three games, and apart from Ervin Santana's performance on Friday night and Tommy Milone's solid outing on Saturday afternoon they never really looked at their best.
With the club being eliminated from post-season contention after Saturday's game, Paul Molitor went with a mix of youth and backups in the season finale. Ricky Nolasco got the start, his first since May 31, and it went about as well as could be expected. Kansas City got to him in the second, with a leadoff walk and single followed up by back-to-back run scoring doubles from Alex Gordon and Alex Rios. It was going to be that kind of a day. Salvador Perez's 21st homer of the season came with two outs in the third, a two-run shot, and that ended Nolasco's day.
Danny Santana singled home Eduardo Nunez in the bottom of the fourth to pull the Twins within four, but that was as good as it got for Minnesota's offense. They had runners in scoring position in the first, third, and sixth, but obviously weren't able to string anything together.
The American League's best club in 2015 pushed across one more run in the top of the eighth, off of Ryan O'Rourke, and that was that. Kansas City swept Minnesota at Target Field, and the Twins finish the year 83-79. Not too bad for a bunch of guys that nobody was supposed to even think about after the July trade deadline.
Minnesota had Byron Buxton, Max Kepler,, Miguel Sano, and Kennys Vargas hitting first, third, fourth, and fifth. They didn't do much, obviously, but it was fun to see all that young talent in the lineup together. Kepler picked up his first Major League hit.
On the pitching side, O'Rourke's run came in his one and two-thirds innings of work. Brian Duensing (2.1 innings), J.R. Graham (1.1) and A.J. Achter (1.0) all gave the Twins scoreless innings of relief.
We'll have open threads for the playoffs this year if you guys want to hang out and talk post-season baseball (who doesn't?), and of course we'll be starting post-mortems and other fun off-season stuff this week as well. So don't go too far!