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D-backs close 93-win season with victory over Royals

Arizona Diamondbacks' Ildemaro Vargas hits a two-run single during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar tipped their caps and likely said goodbye to Kansas City’s fans, and then the playoff-bound Arizona Diamondbacks ended the regular season with a 14-2 win over the Royals on Sunday.

Arizona starter Robbie Ray left after 23 pitches and 1 2/3 innings. Manager Torey Lovullo said he wanted Ray sharp but fresh in case he is needed for the NL Wild Card Game against Colorado on Wednesday.

“I have no reservations at all,” Ray said of being utilized out of the bullpen in the Wild Card game. “I think everybody’s kind of champing at the bit. We’re doing everything we can to prepare for that one game.”

The Diamondbacks finished the season 93-69 after going 69-93 in 2016. The Royals dropped to 80-82, one game worse than in 2016.

“I’m very proud of the things we did in the course of the year,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “We checked a lot of boxes. We did some things that I asked these guys to do from the first game of the season on. I’m proud of these guys for that, and I’m proud to be their manager. But we still have a few more boxes to check.”

Gregor Blanco had three hits, two walks and three stolen bases for Arizona. Jeremy Hazelbaker hit a three-run homer in the fifth off starter Jason Vargas (18-11), who finished tied for the major league lead in victories.

Anthony Banda (2-3) picked up the win in relief. Silvino Brancho struck out five in 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

The foursome of Royals honored during the game joined the team in 2011 and keyed the team’s run into consecutive World Series, including a championship in 2015. They are all eligible for free agency after the season.

Manager Ned Yost pulled the group together with one out in the fifth inning. The players hugged behind the pitchers’ mound, then waved their caps to the cheering crowd as they walked off the field. Salvador Perez, who also debuted with Kansas City in 2011, embraced the group on the top step of the dugout.

The Royals played a video honoring the players after the game, and fans stayed and applauded.

The players also got standing ovations for each of their at-bats. Hosmer homered in the first inning and hugged Moustakas as he crossed the plate.

Before the quartet arrived, Kansas City hadn’t been to the postseason since winning the 1985 World Series. The Royals had the worst record in the majors from 2000-09, losing 100 or more games four times.

“They’ve created a legacy for this organization and a standard to try to move forward and uphold,” Yost said before the game. “They’ve turned this organization into a model of consistency. It’s been a great run. It’s all attributed to them.

“But not only did the fortunes of the Kansas City Royals turn around, but the fan base has been wrapped up in this team for years and years with these kids. It’s really kind of transformed the city a little bit too and energized the city in a small part. Their presence here as effected this city in a pretty big way.”

GOLDSCHMIDT SLUMPING

Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt went 0 for 2 and ended his season with a .297 batting average, hitless in his final 17 at-bats. He finished August with a .319 batting average, but hit just .171 the rest of the season.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Diamondbacks: OF David Peralta had a stiff back and did not play. … SS Chris Owings (fractured right middle finger) is scheduled to play in an instructional league game Monday. He could be used as a pinch runner in the postseason.

Royals: RHP Nathan Karns (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery) said he anticipates he will start playing catch in early November after having not picked up a ball since July. He went on the disabled list in late May with a right extensor strain and nerve irritation. “It won’t be an issue in spring training,” he said. “I’m not worried about it.” … Perez (left groin strain) missed the last three games.

UP NEXT

Diamondbacks: RHP Zack Greinke will start the Wild Card game. He is 2-1 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts against Colorado this season. RHP Jon Gray will be the Rockies starter.

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