Kansas City, Mo. Sometimes, Joe Maddon wishes he wasn’t so farsighted.
All season long as Tampa Bay, New York and Boston slugged it out in the AL East, the Rays’ manager said it would probably come down to the final day of the season.
And now it has.
Matt Joyce hit a two-run triple, and eight pitchers combined on a shutout as Tampa Bay beat the Kansas City Royals, 4-0, Saturday night, ensuring that the AL East race won’t be decided until today.
“I didn’t necessarily want it to be that,” Maddon said. “I’d prefer having the division won. But that’s how it’s going. We’ll see what happens.”
At stake, however, is more than just the division title. The winner gets home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.
“I want to throw at home. Hands down, for sure,” said Rays ace David Price, who got a tuneup inning Saturday night and could start Game 1 on Wednesday. “We all do. We want to win the AL East and have home-field advantage.”
If the Rays and Yankees finish the regular season in a tie, Tampa Bay is the division winner because it won the head-to-head season series, 10-8. The Yankees would get the wild card.
The loss guaranteed Kansas City’s sixth last-place finish in the AL Central in 10 years.
“We’ve got enough talent right now to compete,” manager Ned Yost said. “But we need more talent to win. We’re in those games, but we struggle to win them. A little more talent, and that turns the talent a little bit for us. We just need more talent to consistently win ballgames.”