Tigers 15, Royals 4
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—The Detroit Tigers moved a step closer to clinching their first playoff berth in 19 years.
Curtis Granderson homered, tripled and drove in three runs in a 10-run first inning to help the Tigers rout the Kansas City Royals 15-4 on Saturday night. Detroit maintained its 1 1/2 -game lead in the AL Central over Minnesota.
The Tigers, who lost an AL-record 119 games in 2003, reduced their magic number to one for clinching their first playoff berth since 1987.
“I hear people are already starting to plan celebrations,” Granderson said. “I understand it seems like such a big deal for the fans and for the city. But at the same time, it would be a little celebration, hopefully, compared to winning the division. I hope it is not a huge one.
“For me, if we happen to win the game here (Sunday), for example, normal routine after the game, congratulate everybody, come in to the dugout, little hugs and what not, but I don’t think it should be too blown up.”
Tigers manager Jim Leyland does not want to talk about the playoff just yet.
“We are on the verge, but we haven’t done it yet,” Leyland said. “Hopefully we can get it accomplished tomorrow. It would be real sweet. We would like to take that first step, which be to get in. It would be a pretty big accomplishment. An unexpected accomplishment, I would think.”
Left-hander Kenny Rogers (17-6) held the Royals to five hits and one run over eight innings. Rogers struck out three and walked one.
“We’ve still got work to do,” Rogers said. “By no means are we going to get complacent and sit back and wait for something. We’re going to go out and do what we’re capable of doing. We all want to win the division.”
The Tigers jumped all over the Royals, scoring 10 runs in the first.
“I told them to keep scoring, I’ll make sure I’m loose,” Rogers said. “The more they score, I don’t mind a bit.”
“When I got to third base, (Jeff) Keppinger, their third baseman, told me I got the two hardest out of the way for a cycle,” Granderson said. “He jinxed me. I ended up not doing anything else after that. It seemed like it would have been easy to do, but I couldn’t get a hit after that.”
Polanco was playing for the first time since Aug. 15 when he separated his left shoulder, contributing a two-run double and had three hits. Every Tigers starter reached base in the inning except for Craig Monroe, who grounded out twice.
“The shoulder feels good,” Polanco said. “It bothers me a little bit, but I think it is past the stage where it was hurting. It bothers me more than it hurts. I can live with that. It is going to be part of me for a while.”
Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge, Chris Shelton and Marcus Thames each had run-scoring hits in the first inning. Ivan Rodriguez walked twice in the inning, including the second time with the bases loaded.
The 10 runs and nine hits in the inning were season-highs for the Tigers, who sent 16 men to the plate.
Royals left-hander Mark Redman (10-10) retired only one of the 10 batters he faced, allowing nine runs, before being replaced by Scott Dohmann. Kansas City also gave up 11 runs to Cleveland in the first inning on Aug. 13.
“I was too strong out there,” said Redman, who had not pitched since Sept. 17 after two off-days last week. “When I am strong, the ball stays flat.”
The last time the Tigers scored more than 10 runs in an inning was April 23, 2004, when they had an 11-run sixth against Cleveland.
Granderson added another RBI in the five-run fourth on a groundout. Guillen’s single scored Thames and Magglio Ordonez. Shelton had a run-scoring double. Jose Diaz had a wild pitch, which scored Craig Monroe.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Royals interim manager Billy Doran said. “You just put it behind us and move on. That’s the only way you do after a night like this.”
Rogers, who is 6-0 in his past eight starts since an Aug. 12 loss, lost his shutout in the eighth, when John Buck led off with his 10th home run. He also added a two-run homer in the ninth to make it 15-4.
The Royals need to go 5-3 in their remaining eight games to avoid their third consecutive 100-loss season. … The Tigers have hit 29 home runs against the Royals this season. … The Tigers are 13-1 against the Royals this season, including 8-0 at Kauffman Stadium. … Royals 2B Esteban German went 0-for-4, snapping his career-high nine-game hitting streak.