KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Kansas City Royals have not been to the playoffs in 29 years and are skidding towards a 30th straight season.
Daniel Nava hit a grand slam, Xander Bogaerts added a three-run shot and the Boston Red Sox rallied past the Royals 8-4 on Sunday.
Kansas City blew a four-run lead and dropped three of four to the last-place Red Sox.
The Royals fell 1 1-2 games behind Detroit, which beat Cleveland, in the AL Central. Kansas City is in the thick of the wild-card race. Red Sox manager John Farrell said there is no sympathy for the Royals' last-season slump.
"It's been a long time--everyone in the game knows it's been a long time since they've been in the post-season," Farrell said. "They've got a good team. But our season is not over. We're going to play to our capabilities and with the competitiveness that we expect out of our guys."
Royals manager Ned Yost was asked if his club could afford to lose three of four to a last-place club that is 18-games below .500?
"No, no, no," Yost succinctly answered and promptly ended his post-game media conference.
The Red Sox chased Jason Vargas (11-9) with one out in the sixth after Mookie Betts and Bogaerts singled. Reliever Aaron Crow walked Yoenis Cespedes to load the bases and struck out Allen Craig.
Nava hit Crow's next pitch into the Red Sox bullpen for his second career grand slam and a 7-4 lead.
"We realized at the trade deadline, when we had a lot of moves, that we weren't going to the playoffs," Nava said. "Everyone knew that. We wanted to finish strong and make a push. A couple of years ago some teams knocked out some guys in this clubhouse from the playoffs. I think it is something you keep in the back of your mind. If the roles were reversed, that's what they would try to do. That's how you play the game."
Said Crow, "Today is tough, especially for me because I was the one out there when they took the lead."
Bogaerts homered in the third and got three hits. He also had a sacrifice fly and drove in four runs, giving him 11 RBIs in his past 15 games.
Joe Kelly (3-2) gave up five consecutive hits and four runs in the second, but nothing else in six innings. The Royals loaded the bases in the ninth off Edward Mujica, but Lorenzo Cain struck out looking to end the game.
"That pitch was a foot outside," Cain said.
Eric Hosmer hit a three-run homer in the second, and Omar Infante's grounder scored another run in the inning.
Christian Vazquez pinch hit for Red Sox DH David Ortiz in the seventh inning. "He got called away from this game," Farrell said of Ortiz. "There was a family emergency that he had to attend to and he jumped on a flight late this afternoon. He should catch up with us in Pittsburgh."
Red Sox: INF-OF Brock Holt (concussion) remains sidelined and is having vision problems.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (sore shoulder) made 20 throws with no discomfort in a bullpen session. Manager Ned Yost said they would check on how Duffy feels Monday and make a decision on whether he will start Tuesday against the White Sox. ... DH Josh Willingham (groin strain) has not played since Thursday.
Red Sox: After an off-day Monday, the 10-game trip continues Tuesday with the first of three games at Pittsburgh, another playoff-contending club. Rookie right-hander Anthony Ranaudo will start the series opener.
Royals: Staff ace James Shields, who has a career-high 18 1-3 inning scoreless streak, will start the series opener against the visiting White Sox. Shields hasn't done well against Chicago SS Alexei Ramirez, who has a .412 batting average with two home runs in 51 at-bats against him.