Lorenzo Cain has three walk-off hits for the Kansas City Royals, including the game winner in Wednesday’s 4-3 10-inning victory over Seattle.
But none were bigger than his two-out single that scored Alex Gordon and Ben Zobrist with the fourth and fifth runs, breaking a 3-all tie en route to an overwhelming 10-4 victory over the Mariners Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium, giving the Royals their first division title in 30 years.
They are champions of the Central Division with an 89-63 record. Their win, coupled with a Cleveland victory over second-place Minnesota, set off a wild celebration after Wade Davis coaxed Kyle Seager to hit a soft grounder to Eric Hosmer at first base.
None of the 32,244 fans in attendance left The K as the players celebrated near the mound, in the locker room, then back on the field with the fans.
“We don’t do this without our fans,” said Mike Moustakas, who homered, doubled and drove in three runs. “It’s great we could clinch at home and share this with them.”
Cain stepped away from the mayhem in the middle of the locker room and was happy to talk about his big sixth-inning hit.
“Moose and Hoz (Hosmer) got us going with their homers and I got us the lead and before it was over, everyone contributed,” Cain said. “But listen, this is just the beginning. We’re going to celebrate tonight, and get back to business tomorrow. We want home-field advantage.
“We’re happy with this, but this is just our first goal. You know what the goal is – winning a World Series. Now that will be a celebration when that happens.”
Ben Zobrist scored the game’s first run. He doubled, and scored when Seattle catcher Jesus Sucre attempted to pick him off second. The ball struck Zobrist and bounced into center field as the Royals second baseman raced home.
The second run came on Moustakas’ career-best 21st homer and Hosmer’s 16th homer tied the game at 3-all in the bottom of the fifth.
After the Royals tied the game, starter Johnny Cueto shut down the Mariners.
“These are the big games we got him for,” manager Ned Yost said. “He’s a big-game guy and this was a big game.”
When asked to compare last season’s stunning run to the playoffs and this year’s division championship campaign, Yost paused for a moment.
“Last year was bigger because it was so unexpected,” Yost said. “This year, from day one, I thought we were the best team in the division. This is a big deal to win the division, but this team’s not done. Our only goal is to win the World Series.”
Royals owner David Glass was sprayed with champagne by fun-loving catcher Salvador Perez as he talked about the special victory.
“It’s so wonderful we could do this in front of our fans,” Glass said, as he wiped the champagne from his eyes and gave Perez a hug. “Over the past three seasons we have built something special here in Kansas City and now, we want to give the fans a World Series championship.”
One individual walked through the locker room and was dry as a bone. It was Hall of Famer George Brett, who seemed to enjoy the victory as much as anyone.
“You have to love these guys,” Brett said, as Perez patted him on the back, but didn’t dare spray him.
“You don’t spray a Hall of Famer,” Perez said, grinning from ear to ear. “I love that guy. I love him.”
Hosmer and Moustakas were spraying anyone within the range of their champagne bottles as the Gold Glove first baseman analyzed the season to this point.
“We wanted to win a division championship,” Hosmer said, “and we did. Now, we want to have the best record in the American League so we can play more games in front of our fans. Tonight was amazing, and we want to do it again – in the playoffs and World Series.
“Man, if we win a World Series we can really have a celebration.”