CHICAGO (AP) — Kansas City’s chance for the AL Central title was erased by Detroit’s victory on Sunday, and the Royals went on to a 6-4 comeback win over Chicago in the final game for retiring White Sox captain Paul Konerko.
Coming into the final day of the regular season, Kansas City was hoping for a one-game playoff on Monday in Detroit for the division crown. But the Tigers clinched the Central with a 3-0 victory over the Twins, sending the Royals to a home wild-card game against Oakland on Tuesday night in their first playoff appearance since 1985.
Right after Detroit secured its fourth straight division title, Kansas City manager Ned Yost started pulling some of his regulars from the lineup. Rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura was lifted after four innings and 73 pitches.
Kansas City (89-73) likely will have James Shields on the mound when the Royals take on the Athletics.
Konerko started at first base and played five innings on the final day of his 18-year big league career. The slugger, who paid tribute to his wife and three children by writing their names in the infield dirt behind the bag, went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.
Konerko went out to first before Kansas City batted in the sixth inning, and then was replaced by Andy Wilkins. He waved his hat toward the visiting dugout, where the Royals were standing and applauding along the top step, and then waved to the standing crowd of 32,266, once again hearing chants of “Paulie! Paulie!”
The 38-year-old Konerko disappeared into the dugout for a brief moment and then popped back out for a curtain call. He waved to the crowd again and acknowledged the sustained cheers with a bow before retreating back into the dugout, where he received more hugs and congratulations from his teammates.
A six-time All-Star, Konerko finishes with a .279 average, 439 homers and 1,412 RBIs. He spent his final 16 years with the White Sox, winning the World Series in 2005.
Chicago had a 4-2 lead when Konerko departed, but Kansas City responded with three runs in the sixth. Christian Colon, who was activated from the disabled list before the game, hit a tying two-run double off Daniel Webb (6-5) and Carlos Peguero added a tiebreaking RBI single.
Casey Coleman (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning for his first win since Sept. 9, 2011, for the Chicago Cubs against Milwaukee. Louis Coleman got three outs for his first save.
Marcus Semien had a two-run homer and a bases-loaded walk for the White Sox (73-89), who dropped five of their final six games. Adam Eaton went 3 for 3 before he was replaced in the field before the fifth inning, leaving him with a .300 batting average.
Ventura allowed four runs and eight hits. He had won five of his previous six starts.
Royals: Colon had been sidelined by a broken middle finger on his right hand.
White Sox: It was unclear exactly what was wrong with SS Alexei Ramirez and 1B Jose Abreu, who did not play. Manager Robin Ventura mentioned before the game that some guys were banged up, and then said Abreu “probably wouldn’t have had his last at-bat last night,” and Ramirez had tweaked a hamstring “or something.”
Royals SS Alcides Escobar started every game this season. His previous career high was 158 games, set in 2011 and matched last year.
“It’s hard for most people, but it’s not hard for him,” Yost said. “He just has that body type that allows him to go out and play at a high level every single day.”
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