Royals take sweep to keep up standings ascent
Gordon knocks two-run homer as Guthrie deals complete game
PHOENIX -- The Royals will be sad to see Chase Field in the rearview mirror.
The Phoenix ballpark has been good to them this week, playing host as the Royals completed a three-game sweep of the D-backs with a 6-2 win on Thursday. The victory closed out a 5-1 West Coast trip, vaulted the Royals into the second Wild Card spot and moved them within 2 1/2 games of the American League Central lead.
"We're on a good stretch right now, just kind of like we were in June," Billy Butler said of the team's 12-3 record in its last 15 games. "Hopefully, this one lasts a little longer."
Starter Jeremy Guthrie (8-9) gave the bullpen a day off, pitching the Royals' first complete game of the season.
"It's nice," Guthrie said. "I think it's the pitcher's goal every time to get as deep as they can. I haven't done that very well, especially the last couple of months."
Guthrie looked poised for anything but a complete game early in Thursday's contest. The D-backs tagged him for a run in both the first and third innings and knocked around seven hits through three frames.
Guthrie didn't just regain control of the game -- he dominated the D-backs' order, setting down 19 straight batters from the end of the third inning through the ninth.
"You're thinking, 'Man, this is going to be one of those nights where maybe he goes five,'" Yost said. "And then, boom. After the third inning, he just locked in."
The bullpen was poised to come in to finish out the game, but Guthrie never gave them a chance.
"Going into the sixth inning, I felt pretty good," Yost said. "We had [Kelvin Herrera] that could come out and pitch, and he gets us through the seventh. And I'm like, 'OK, well let's send him back out and see if we can give Wade [Davis] a day off.' Boom, he gets through it. 'All right, let's see if we can give [closer Greg Holland] a day off, even though it was a save situation.'
"We're getting down to the point of the season where you've got to try to make sure everyone is strong going into it. When you've got a pitcher that is throwing as good as he is, you try to take advantage of every pitch that he has in his tank."
Not only was Guthrie on the top of his game, the Royals' offense continued its hot streak in the desert. Alex Gordon connected for his 10th home run of the year, giving the Royals a 3-1 lead in the top of the third that they never relinquished.
"They hit home runs," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We didn't drive the ball at all. I mean we had four or five extra-base hits the whole series, maybe. How many home runs did they hit in the series? Five? We got outplayed, but we've got to move on."
Although the final win against the D-backs moves the Royals into a better position in the playoff race, Yost isn't concerning himself with the standings just yet, even though this is the closest his team has been to the first-place Tigers since June 23.
"We're not even looking at the second Wild Card right now. Our focus is on winning the division," Yost said. "I don't pay attention this time of year because our focus is to win baseball games every single night. We want to win the division."