KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost never has been one to concede the division race in favor of the Wild Card race.So even though the Royals dropped two of three to the first-place Indians in the American League Central and fell 6 1/2 games back, Yost is not about
KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost never has been one to concede the division race in favor of the Wild Card race.
So even though the Royals dropped two of three to the first-place Indians in the American League Central and fell 6 1/2 games back, Yost is not about to turn his attention to the seemingly more attainable AL Wild Card.
The Royals are 1 1/2 games back for the second AL Wild Card spot.
But Yost isn't even concerned with that yet.
"We're a good week away from being a half-game out of the division," Yost said. "So my mindset is always on the division."
Yost had the same mindset back in 2014, when the Royals went on their magical ride to Game 7 of the World Series. It all started with an AL Wild Card berth.
But perhaps few fans remember just how close the Royals were to winning the division then. The Royals clinched the AL Wild Card spot on Friday of the last weekend of the regular season.
But with two games left, the Royals were just one game back of the division-leading Tigers. And Yost and the Royals had only one goal then -- catch the Tigers.
"We wanted to catch them and get into a one-game playoff for the division," Yost said. "It went right down to the end."
Indeed, after the celebration erupted on that Friday night in Chicago as the Royals clinched their first playoff berth in 29 years, Yost reiterated that night that the goal still was to win the final two games of the series and catch Detroit. The Royals lost, 5-4, to the White Sox on Saturday, but the Tigers also lost to the Twins.
It came down to Sunday. The Royals did their part, beating the White Sox, 6-4. But David Price threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings to help Detroit beat the Twins, 3-0, and win the division.
"We knew we at least had a chance in the Wild Card," Yost said. "I know with the type of team that we have, if we can make the playoffs, then we can get on a run," Yost said. "So the whole goal is to make the playoffs, one way or another. Just find a way."
But Yost's preferred way remains to win the division. The Royals have seven games left with the Tribe.
"Every one of these games, it's a two-game swing," Yost said. "Best-case scenario [last weekend] was the sweep and you pick up three games and you're 2 1/2 [games] out. Worst-case scenario is you get swept and you're 8 1/2 out. And the next, next best scenario is to avoid the sweep. Instead of 8 1/2 back, we're 6 1/2 back. That's where we are."
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.