KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar tipped their caps and likely said goodbye to Kansas City’s fans.
Then the playoff-bound Arizona Diamondbacks ended the regular season with a 14-2 win over the Royals on Sunday.
It didn’t stop the quartet — all pending free agents who have been with Kansas City since 2011 — from going out in memorable fashion.
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 foursome keyed the team’s run into consecutive World Series, including a championship in 2015, but now they’re all eligible for free agency.
“The bond we all have, they can never take away from us,” Hosmer said. “I’ve really enjoyed playing with these guys the last 10 years of my life, not only that, but growing up with these guys as well.”
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.
“I was a wreck all day,” Moustakas said. “After he hit his home run, I had tears in my eyes, and I’m trying to hit. I had no idea what was going on. It was unbelievable. That was one of the coolest moments that I’ve been a part of, watching the fans of Kansas City give an ovation and then going out there and hitting a home run. I couldn’t believe that happened.
“Going into this offseason, we don’t know what’s ahead of us. It’s our first time doing this, so no telling what can happen.”
Before those four players 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.”
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.
“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.”
Anthony Banda (2-3) picked up the win in relief. Silvino Brancho struck out five in 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Arizona starter Robbie Ray left after 23 pitches and 1 2/3 innings. 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.
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.
Diamondbacks: SS Ketel Marte departed in the fifth inning with left hamstring tightness after legging out an infield single. He is considered day-to-day. “There’s nothing to be totally alarmed about, but we’ll re-evaluate him tomorrow,” Lovullo said. … RHP Jimmie Sherfy, who has not pitched since Sept. 24 because of triceps tightness, will throw a bullpen Monday. Arizona has not yet decided whether he is healthy enough to be on the wild-card roster. … OF Ray Fuentes had upper-back tightness and was held out. … 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.
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.
Royals: They open the 2018 season at home against the White Sox.