MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins were eliminated from the AL wild-card race Saturday, getting stifled by Yordano Ventura for seven innings in a 5-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
Ventura (13-8) carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and struck out 11 to win his third straight decision for Kansas City (94-67), which momentarily pulled ahead of Toronto (93-67) for home-field advantage through the postseason. The Blue Jays play at Tampa Bay later Saturday.
Blaine Boyer (3-6) allowed two runs, one earned, while getting two outs for Minnesota (83-78), which began play two games back of Houston for the second wild-card spot. The Twins committed two errors in a costly four-run seventh inning for the Royals.
Minnesota loaded the bases in the ninth inning before Wade Davis struck out Kennys Vargas and Eduardo Escobar for his 17th save in 18 chances.
Minnesota’s unlikely contention for a playoff spot came down to the seventh inning of the next to last day of season.
After the Twins tied the score 1-all with an RBI single by Brian Dozier in the sixth, Kansas City came right back in the seventh.
Alcides Escobar tripled with one out. Cain’s dribbler down the first-base line was fielded by Boyer, who hit Cain in the back with the throw and Escobar scored to break the tie.
Minnesota third basemen Trevor Plouffe couldn’t corral a hard-hit ball by Johnny Gomes for one error and left fielder Eddie Rosario’s errant throw went out of play for the second error, allowing two runs to score.
Mike Moustakas added an RBI double to cap the inning.
Ventura, who could be in line to start Game 1 of the division series, lost just once in his final 14 starts of the regular season. He was 9-1 with a 3.03 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 89 innings since a loss on July 20.
Royals: Kendrys Morales was available as a pinch hitter but was held out again after he left Thursday’s game with tightness in his left quadriceps.
Royals: Johnny Cueto (9-13, 4.95) will make the final start of the regular season for Kansas City. Cueto has allowed eight earned runs in his last 20 innings over his last three starts after giving up 28 earned runs in 26 1-3 innings between Aug. 21 and Sept. 13.
Twins: Minnesota still hasn’t determined its starter for Sunday. Kyle Gibson was set to get the ball if the Twins were in playoff contention. Manager Paul Molitor said Gibson, who would be pitching on short rest, wouldn’t start if the team was eliminated.