TORONTO (AP) — Kevin Kiermaier hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the seventh inning and the Toronto Blue Jays took advantage of three consecutive wild pitches by Cole Ragans to beat the Royals 5-2 on Sunday, completing a three-game sweep.
Toronto came in tied with Seattle in the wild card race, 1 1/2 games ahead of Texas. The Rangers begin a four-game series north of the border on Monday.
“We’ve got great energy right now,” Kiermaier said after Toronto completed its eighth sweep. “We’re clicking at the right time and we just want to keep this thing going.”
The Blue Jays moved a game ahead of the Mariners in the wild card standings after Seattle lost at Tampa Bay.
The major league-worst Royals (44-100) lost their fourth straight, giving them 100 losses for the first time since 2019. Kansas City is the first big league team to lose 100 games this season. It was the seventh 100-loss season in team history. All have come since 2002.
“If we’ve got to change some things, change some things,” Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. said. “Do it this last month and try to build going into next year.”
Kiermaier said he was expecting an offspeed pitch when he snapped a 2-2 tie with a home run off right-hander Taylor Clarke (2-5), his eighth.
“I was waiting for it and got it right where I wanted,” Kiermaier said.
Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio made it 5-2 with RBI singles off Jackson Kowar in the eighth.
Blue Jays right-hander José Berríos (10-10) allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings to snap a five-start winless streak.
Right-hander Yimi García got two outs in the eighth and left-hander Génesis Cabrera retired MJ Melendez to strand the tying run at third.
Jordan Romano wrapped it up for his 34th save in 37 chances as the Royals left the bases loaded.
Ragans extended his scoreless innings streak to 26 with five shutout innings to begin the game, but his outing unraveled in the sixth.
“A complete outlier,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said of Ragans’ strange sixth. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The Blue Jays hadn’t put a runner in scoring position until the sixth, when Ragans issued consecutive two-out walks to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Davis Schneider.
Facing trouble for the first time, Ragans suddenly lost his control and his footing. He slipped and threw wildly to the backstop on his first pitch to Alejandro Kirk as both runners moved up.
“On my lead leg, the bottom of my cleat just caught the dirt,” Ragans said. “Basically it trips me so then I have no footing to throw the ball.”
Ragans waved off manager Matt Quatraro and the trainer, then threw another pitch to the backstop, allowing Guerrero to score. Ragans slipped again on his next pitch as Schneider raced home with the tying run.
Ragans had no explanation for his sudden loss of command.
“I’ve never seen it, never had it happen to me,” he said. “I don’t know. Just kind of a freak accident.”
Third base umpire and crew chief Jeff Nelson came to inspect the mound after the third wild throw. Ragans was replaced after walking Kirk with his next pitch. Clarke came on and retired Whit Merrifield to end the inning.
“It’s pretty aggravating,” Ragans said of his wild finish. “The guys fought hard to get two runs and then that happens and I give them right back.”
Berríos said he didn’t have any issues with footing on the mound when he went out for the seventh.
“Sometimes when they open the roof and it’s a day game, (the mound) starts getting hard and the holes start getting bigger,” Berríos said. “Today it was not bad.”
Ragans allowed two runs and one hit in 5 2/3 innings. He walked a career-high six and struck out six.
George Springer’s leadoff single in the third was the only hit off Ragans.
“He dominated the whole entire game and then it just was a little hiccup, I guess,” Witt said.
Kansas City scored twice off Berríos in the top of the sixth. Kyle Isbel led off with a triple and came home on Witt’s one-out double. Witt stole third and scored on Salvador Perez’s grounder.
THIS IS 40
Witt’s stolen base in the sixth was his 40th. It’s the 25th time in Royals history that a player has stolen 40 or more bases. The last to do it was Whit Merrifield in 2021.
Kansas City was swept for the 13th time.
Royals: Neither the Royals nor the White Sox had named a starter for Monday’s game at Chicago.
Blue Jays: RHP Chris Bassitt (14-7, 3.69 ERA) is scheduled to start Monday’s opener against the Rangers. His expected opponent is RHP Dane Dunning (9-6, 3.88).
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb