DETROIT (AP)—Saturday afternoon, Jim Leyland still had hope. By the end of the night, it was mostly gone.
“If Toronto holds on, and we win tonight, it’s 3 1/2 ,” he said. “Then we get one tomorrow, the Yankees lose again, and suddenly it’s 2 1/2 with a week to play.”
Unfortunately for the defending American League champions, things didn’t work out that way. The Royals once again beat Kenny Rogers and the Tigers in a key game, hours after the Yankees rallied to win.
The Tigers now trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 games with only seven left to play. In the AL Central, Cleveland’s magic number for eliminating Detroit is down to one.
“Everybody else is going be more dramatic than I am,” Leyland said. “It’s sad that we’re probably not going to the postseason, but that’s the way it goes. The Cardinals and us were in the World Series last year, and it looks like neither of us is going to make it this year. That happens.”
Mark Grudzielanek was the hitting star for Kansas City, going 4-for-5 against his favorite opponents. He is now batting .647 in his career against Rogers and .355 against Detroit this year.
“I’ve made a few mistakes against him, and he just seems to take advantage of every one of them,” Rogers said. “He’s in trouble next year—that average is going down. At least I got him out once today.”
Last year, the Royals beat Rogers on the final day of the season, giving the AL Central to the Minnesota Twins.
Kyle Davies (3-7) won for just the second time in eight starts, giving up three runs and nine hits with a walk in 5 1-3 innings.
“I was really feeling the ball well coming out of my hand, and it had some life to it,” he said. “It was good.”
“Maggs is having one of those years,” Leyland said. “He hits it hard all over the park. He’s been fantastic.”
Rogers (3-3) extended his winless streak to seven starts, allowing five runs — three earned—and eight hits in six innings.
The Royals scored three in the first, then took a 5-1 lead with two more in the second.
Curtis Granderson led off the bottom half with a homer, but Rogers continued to struggle in the second. After striking out the first two batters, he walked German and Grudzielanek hit an RBI double—his eighth hit in his last nine at-bats against Rogers.
“That was the biggest hit of the game,” manager Buddy Bell said. “We’ve had too many games where we score in one inning and then stop, so it was important to come right back after they scored.”
Butler walked and Sweeney made it 5-1 with a single—the last run Rogers allowed.
“It was good to get those early runs,” Sweeney said. “Kenny shut us down after that, but we got enough.”
The Tigers got within 5-3 on Timo Perez’s two-run double in the fourth, but he was thrown out trying to stretch the play into a triple.
Detroit had runners on second and third with one out in the sixth, but reliever John Bale struck out Inge on a 13-pitch at-bat and got Granderson to ground out.
The Royals made it 6-3 in the seventh when Teahen hit into a bases-loaded double play, and Grudzielanek hit an RBI double in the eighth.
Granderson’s leadoff homer was his seventh of the season, breaking the franchise record he set last season. … Rogers won his three postseason starts last year, then won his first three starts this season, but is 0-3 since July 14. … Jason LaRue struck out in his first three at-bats before grounding out weakly in his fourth. He is hitting .074 (5-for-67) in his last 26 games.