By Keegan Matheson and Gregor Chisholm
TORONTO -- Marcus Stroman pitched another gem on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, as the Blue Jays handed the Royals a 5-2 loss, making Kansas City's path to an American League Wild Card spot even more difficult.
The Royals remain 4 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot despite losing, thanks to the Yankees beating Minnesota.
Stroman kept the Royals scoreless long enough for Darwin Barney to put the Blue Jays in front with a two-run home run in the sixth inning. The Blue Jays' ace finished the night with seven innings of one-run ball, allowing four hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
"I felt good out there," said Stroman, who lowered his 2017 ERA to 3.01. "We got on a pretty good roll and my sinker felt good, so I was just kind of sticking with that and using my changeup and slider off of my sinker."
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon made MLB history in defeat with the 5,694th home run hit in Major League Baseball in 2017, a solo shot to right-center field off Toronto reliever Ryan Tepera in the eighth inning. Gordon's dinger set a new record for the most home runs hit in a single Major League season, passing the previous high from 2000.
Russell Martin gave the Blue Jays some insurance in the bottom of the seventh after a Mike Moustakas sacrifice fly pulled the Royals within one in the top half of the frame. Following a Kendrys Morales single and Kevin Pillar double, Martin hit a line-drive double to left-center field to bring both home. Barney then singled home Martin, giving him three RBIs on the night.
Ian Kennedy pitched well for Kansas City through five innings, but his night ended quickly in the sixth when he allowed Barney's two-run homer. Kennedy allowed just three hits and struck out two without issuing a walk while throwing 63 pitches over five-plus innings.
"I thought he looked great," said Royals manager Ned Yost, who added that Barney was Kennedy's last batter regardless of the outcome. "Pounding the strike zone. He got his arm back up to his good slot. I thought he threw the ball really, really well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Barney breaks it open: Barney finally put the Blue Jays on the board in the sixth with a two-run home run that ended Kennedy's night. The second baseman pulled a Kennedy changeup 373 feet over the wall in left field after he was unable to get down a bunt earlier in the at-bat. Barney's fifth of the year also made up for a baserunning blunder earlier in the game in the third when he was doubled up at second base after a Teoscar Hernandez flyout.
"Unfortunately it didn't work out," Barney said. "I guess the best-case scenario after that. ... Fortunately, I battled off pitches and got one I could handle."
Joey Gloves:Jose Bautista started what could be his final homestand with the Blue Jays with an impressive defensive play in the third inning. With a runner on first base, Bautista tracked down a Lorenzo Cain fly ball that was drifting toward the right-field corner and made a great catch, sliding into the wall in foul territory. Had he missed it and the ball landed fair, Kansas City could have had two runners in scoring position for Melky Cabrera. Instead, Cabrera grounded out to end the inning.
"Just give credit to the players for putting the work in. You see guys like [Giancarlo] Stanton, [Aaron] Judge, guys on the other team like [Justin] Smoak, [Josh] Donaldson. Even on our team, this is the most home runs the Kansas City Royals have hit in a season, so you've got to give credit to the players all around, just having good approaches and putting good swings on mistakes." -- Gordon, on the increased home run totals around baseball
"You're not going to make a whole lot of money hitting the ball on the ground in this league because the defenders are so quick and athletic. You've got to get the ball in the air if you're going to be successful." -- Yost, on the increase in home runs around baseball
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Roberto Osuna's 37th save of the season ties him for the fourth most in a single season in Blue Jays history with Kevin Gregg (2010).
Bautista's 159th strikeout of 2017 ties him with Jose Canseco (1998) and Kelly Johnson (2012) for the most strikeouts in a single season in Blue Jays history.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Jakob Junis (7-2, 4.15 ERA) takes the mound Wednesday night in Toronto at 6:07 p.m. CT for Game 2 of the Royals' series north of the border. In his last start, Junis held the Indians to one run on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Blue Jays: Left-hander Brett Anderson (3-3, 5.73) will make his fifth start for the Blue Jays when he takes the mound on Wednesday at 7:07 p.m. ET. Anderson left his last start in the fifth inning because of a blister, but he has since been cleared to return to the mound.