Minneapolis The Kansas City Royals can see a better future, even if it is a little clouded at the moment by all those defeats.
Mike Sweeney went 3-for-4 with a homer and five RBIs, helping the Royals beat the Minnesota Twins, 10-6, Thursday night and avoid setting the club record for losses in a season.
Mark Teahen and John Buck hit solo home runs in a five-run sixth inning off rookie Travis Bowyer (0-1), who then gave up two singles before Sweeney crushed the first pitch he saw into the left-center field seats to give Kansas City a 10-6 lead.
"I never really doubted the character of this team," said manager Buddy Bell, who took over in May after Tony Pena was fired. "Inexperience shows, and that's something we've got to live with, but the character has always been there. ... We've got a lot of young guys that need to show progress if we're going to get better, and I think they will."
The Royals (55-104) must sweep a three-game series against the Blue Jays this weekend to keep from becoming the losingest team in franchise history. They went 58-104 last year.
"This late in the year," Sweeney said, "we put the emphasis on not quitting and definitely not packing our bags until that last out in Toronto."
Royals at Blue Jays
When: 6:07 tonight Where: Rogers Centre, Toronto Pitchers: Zack Greinke (5-16) vs. Josh Towers (12-12) TV: Sunflower Broadband Ch. 6
Nick Punto hit a two-run homer, and Luis Rodriguez had a three-run homer for Minnesota (80-79), which needs one more victory during a three-game series against Detroit to ensure a fifth consecutive winning season - something that never has happened in the club's 45 years.
That's not much consolation for the Twins, whose streak of three straight AL Central titles officially ended earlier in the day when Chicago clinched.
"It's been a long year," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've been through a lot of ups and downs, so hopefully we'll come out and put forth a great effort this weekend."
D.J. Carrasco (6-8), making his first relief appearance this year, pitched 11â3 scoreless innings for the victory after starter Mike Wood left trailing 6-5.
"We just want to end on a good note," Carrasco said, "and play some good baseball."
Joe Mays had what was likely his last outing for Minnesota, allowing five runs in five innings. He labored through the first two innings, before settling down and retiring the last 11 men he faced.