Royals clinch first division title since 1985

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

The Royals beat the Mariners 10-4 in front of an electric crowd at Kauffman Stadium tonight to clinch the AL Central and secure their first division title since 1985. MLB’s longest drought between division titles is officially over. The Royals were in the AL West in 1985, so this is the first AL Central title in franchise history.

The Royals came into Thursday night with a magic number of two. They got some help from the Indians, who beat the second-place Twins 6-3. The Cardinals and Pirates have already punched their tickets to the postseason by at least clinching a spot in the NL Wild Card Game, so the Royals are the first team in MLB to actually clinch their division.

Johnny Cueto, who has mostly struggled since coming over from the Reds at July’s trade deadline, allowed three runs over seven innings. The win was his first since August 15. Mike Moustakas homered and drove in three runs while Alex Rios and Lorenzo Cain each knocked in two runs apiece. Eric Hosmer also homered in the victory.

Despite their World Series run last year, the Royals entered spring training as underdogs in the AL Central, with the Tigers, White Sox, and Indians getting most of the preseason attention. While those teams have largely disappointed, the Royals have been in first place every day since June 8. Even with a losing record in September, clinching the AL Central has been a foregone conclusion for weeks.

The Royals (89-63) have a two-game lead over the Blue Jays (87-65) for the best record in the American League.