The Kansas City Royals would love nothing more than to highlight their first winning season in 10 years with a rare playoff berth.
The Royals try to stay in the wild card hunt on Monday night when they open up a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners.
Kansas City picked up a third victory in four games with Sunday's 4-0 victory over the Texas Rangers in 10 innings. The rubber match was scoreless until Justin Maxwell clubbed a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the bonus frame with two outs.
After Salvador Perez singled to load the bases, Rangers reliever Joakim Soria retired Mike Moustakas on a foul pop up and got a force out at home on George Kottaras' grounder.
Maxwell, however, worked the count full before launching his second career walk-off grand slam and the first by a Royal since 2001.
"I was just trying to hit the ball hard," Maxwell said. "The guys in front of me had great at-bats and in that situation it was kind of tough to see with the shadow there so I was trying to get ready early."
Kansas City concluded its regular-season home schedule 44-37, the most wins as the host since 1992, and at 82-73 the club has its first winning record since going 83-79 in 2003.
But the Royals have not been to the playoffs since winning the World Series in 1985 and sit 3 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Indians for the AL's second wild card spot. Kansas City's elimination number stands at four.
The Royals try to make up ground tonight behind Yordano Ventura, who is set to make just his second Major League start.
Rated Kansas City's second-best prospect by MLB.com, the 22-year-old went a combined 8-6 with a 3.14 earned run average and 155 strikeouts across 134 2/3 innings in 26 games at both Double and Triple-A.
He then joined the Royals last Tuesday versus Cleveland to replace an injured Danny Duffy (left forearm strain) and did not factor into a 5-3 loss. The righty gave up two hits and a pair of walks over the first five innings of his debut, but was charged with a run on three hits while recording two outs in the sixth.
Seattle counters with its own rookie in Brandon Maurer, who is 4-8 with a 6.95 ERA in 20 games (12 starts) this season.
The 23-year-old righty opened the season in the rotation and the pitched in relief before getting a start on Sept. 11 versus Houston. Maurer lost on that day, giving up five runs over three innings.
He got a second start in a row on Tuesday in Detroit, charged with a pair of runs while striking out six over five innings of a no-decision.
Maurer's last relief outing came on Sept. 5 in Kansas City and he allowed three runs and four hits over 1 1/3 frames.
Seattle won for just the second time in eight games with Sunday's 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer and Felix Hernandez struck out 10 batters over just four innings of work.
Pitching for the first time in three weeks due to a strained oblique muscle, Hernandez set an MLB record for the most strikeouts in a start last four innings or fewer.
"With Felix only giving us four innings we had to rely on our bullpen," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. "It was nice to see Justin get that big hit in a tight ball game."
The Royals took three of four from the Mariners at home in early September.