KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Francisco Lindor hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, Josh Tomlin dazzled in his final tune-up for the postseason and the Cleveland Indians beat the Kansas City Royals 3-2 on Sunday.
Tomlin (13-9) dueled with Ian Kennedy (11-11) into the eighth before the new AL Central champs pulled ahead. Santana drew a walk off Kennedy to start the inning, Jason Kipnis followed with a double and Lindor hit a fly ball deep enough to right field for the lead.
Tomlin got the first batter in the eighth before Andrew Miller finished it up, and Cody Allen handled the ninth to earn his 32nd save and give the Indians (94-67) a nice boost heading into the playoffs.
Their Division Series against Boston begins Thursday, though the location was still to be decided.
It was a frustrating finale to an injury plagued season for the Royals, who had been to the past two World Series and were coming off their first championship since 1985. A dismal July nearly buried them, an inspired August got them back into contention, and a stumbling finish left them at 81-81.
It was their first non-winning season in four years.
Meanwhile, there were so many playoff permutations riding on the final day of the regular season that Indians manager Terry Francona was still trying to sort everything out 3 hours before first pitch.
The only thing he knew was his club was playing Boston on Thursday — somewhere.
So, the Indians chose to focus solely on a club they’ve dominated this season.
They fell into a 1-0 hole when Jarrod Dyson and Whit Merrifield opened the game with doubles off Tomlin, the expected Game 3 starter in the divisional series, but the lead didn’t even last the two innings.
The Indians answered in the third when Tyler Naquin was plunked by a pitch from Ian Kennedy, and Yan Gomes went deep to left field on the first big league pitch he’d seen since July 17.
Kansas City tied it up when Cheslor Cuthbert homered leading off the fifth inning.
Tomlin wound up allowing two runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings, retiring the final 10 he faced. Kennedy retired 13 in a row during a similar stretch, giving up three runs on four hits in 7 2/3 innings.
Indians: Gomes, activated from the 60-day DL on Friday, started for the first time since breaking his right hand in a rehab game Sept. 14. “It’s been a long way back,” Gomes said. “They said I can’t hurt it any more. You’ll just have to play through it, play through the pain.”
Royals: 1B Eric Hosmer missed the finale with a wrist issue he’s been battling for weeks. C Sal Perez was the DH to protect an ailing hamstring. … RHP Dillon Gee is scheduled to have another procedure Oct. 11 for blood clots in his shoulder and lung. The issue popped up during a start in Detroit.
Indians: Boston holds the tiebreaker over Cleveland for homefield advantage. So if the Tigers lose to the Braves and the Red Sox lose to the Blue Jays, games finishing later Sunday, the Indians would begin the playoff series against Boston at home.
Royals: Time to think about next season. The Royals need to get healthy after injuries ruined much of this season, and general manager Dayton Moore has some difficult roster decisions to make, including whether to exercise team options on SS Alcides Escobar and RHP Wade Davis.
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