KANSAS CITY -- It was perhaps the end of an era for one team, and the beginning of one for the other.As the Royals played their final game of 2017 and saluted their impending free agents, the D-backs pulled most of their starters early as they prepare for Wednesday's National
KANSAS CITY -- It was perhaps the end of an era for one team, and the beginning of one for the other.
As the Royals played their final game of 2017 and saluted their impending free agents, the D-backs pulled most of their starters early as they prepare for Wednesday's National League Wild Card Game against the Rockies.
The D-backs won Sunday's regular-season finale, 14-2, on the strength of home runs from Chris Iannetta and Jeremy Hazelbaker. That gave Arizona a 93-69 record, a complete turnaround from last year's 69-93 mark.
"I'm very proud of that," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "I'm very proud of the things we did over the course of the year. We checked a lot of boxes. We did some things that I had asked these guys to do from the first game of the season on and I'm proud of these guys for that and I'm proud to be their manager.
"But we still have some boxes to check and everybody knows that the story is untold and that's the message that I've sent to these guys."
But the D-backs' bigger concern was getting their team ready for Wednesday. Left-hander Robbie Ray tuned up with 23 pitches before leaving after 1 2/3 innings as scheduled.
The Royals, meanwhile, may have bid their goodbyes to some of their impending free agents, including a core group of shortstop Alcides Escobar, third baseman Mike Moustakas, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and first baseman Eric Hosmer.
"We don't know what will happen," Moustakas said. "We don't know if all of us or some of us will be back. But we're proud to have played for this city and this team."
• Royals get sentimental sendoff
Left-hander Jason Vargas, another impending free agent, left after four innings. He gave up six hits and six runs and finished the season with 18 wins, tied for the most in the Major Leagues.
"Kansas City is such an unbelievable place," Vargas said. "My family and I have landed. To say I didn't want to come back would be lying….I made one of the best decisions I made in my life to come here."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The big three-run jack: The D-backs were leading, 3-2, in the fifth when Hazelbaker jumped on the first pitch he saw from Vargas and belted a four-seam fastball into the right-field bullpen. It was Hazelbaker's second home run this season, and the three-run shot put Arizona up, 6-2.
Ovation, then homer: It was a special moment as Hosmer came to the plate in the first inning and received a standing ovation. Three pitches later, Hosmer drove a fastball from Ray into the left-field seats, his 25th home run this season, tying a career high.
"The crowd was so special today," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "So great to celebrate this. [Mike Moustakas] said to [Hosmer], 'You're what legends are made of with that home run.'"
"This is something I can carry with me the rest of my life. It's pretty cool." -- Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield, who won the American League stolen base title with 34
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
The Royals challenged an out call at first base in the fifth inning when it was initially ruled that Melky Cabrera was tagged before reaching the bag after an errant throw. The call was overturned.
D-backs: The D-backs play host to the Rockies in the National League Wild Card Game at 5 p.m. MST/8 ET on Wednesday on TBS.
Royals: Kansas City opens the 2018 regular-season schedule at home on March 29 against the White Sox.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.