KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Detroit Tigers went from being routed, to routing the Kansas City Royals.
Omar Infante drove in six runs on five hits, both career highs, and Andy Dirks went 5-for-5 with a walk as the Tigers blasted the Royals 16-2 on Friday night.
The Tigers stroked a season-high 26 hits. Every Tigers starter had a hit and scored a run in the first five innings. The 16 runs and 26 hits were the most the Royals have allowed in a game this year.
In their previous game on Wednesday at Boston, the Tigers lost, 20-4.
"I don't even remember that game," Dirks said.
But Tigers manager Jim Leyland knows these games happen over a 162-game season.
"You don't like to see these type of games, whether they're for you or against you, but obviously better for you," Leyland said. "It was a freak game.
"We've got teams trying to catch us and we're trying to keep them from catching us."
It does not look likely the Royals or anybody will be able to catch the Tigers this season. The Royals fell nine games back, and the Tigers, the defending AL champions, hold a 6 1/2-game advantage over Cleveland.
Dirks also scored four runs, and Austin Jackson drove in four runs, matching his career high.
"Dirks had a big night, no question about that; a lot of guys did," Leyland said. "It just happens. It's just one of those freak things."
Anibal Sanchez was the beneficiary of the Tigers' offensive splurge, picking up his 13th victory. Sanchez gave up one run on seven hits in seven innings, while walking one and striking out five. He lowered his American League-best earned run average to 2.61.
"I got good support today," Sanchez said. "They scored some runs and I felt more comfortable on the mound and did my job.
"I feel strong. This is third or fourth time I've faced them this year and I tried to mix it up."
Infante's ground ball single to left in the seventh scored Victor Martinez to cap his big night. He was replaced by Herman Perez in the eighth inning. Infante, who raised his average to .323, has been limited to 99 games this year because of an ankle injury.
"I'm not too concerned about his health anymore," Leyland said. "He's back to pretty much 100 percent."
The Royals scored a run in the ninth when David Lough doubled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Jarrod Dyson's sacrifice fly.
The Tigers sent 10 men to the plate in a five-run second inning. After James Shields retired the first batter, he walked Dirks and surrendered hits to six of the next seven batters.
Jackson's two-run double to right highlighted the inning. Ramon Santiago also drove in a run with a double, while Infante and Miguel Cabrera contributed run-producing singles.
Cabrera had missed four of the five previous games with an abdominal wall strain.
The Tigers threatened again in the third, which Dirks, Alex Avila and Infante opened with singles to load the bases. Shields got out of this jam by picking Dirks off third and striking out Santiago and Jackson.
The Tigers again sent 10 men to the plate in a five-run fourth and chased Shields. Jackson drove in two more runs with a single. Santiago walked with the bases loaded for an RBI, and Prince Fielder and Infante stroked RBI singles.
Shields, who was 6-1 in his previous eight starts, gave up 10 runs and 14 hits, both matching career highs, in 3 2/3 innings.
The Tigers stretched their lead to 13-1 in the fifth on Infante's two-out, three-run double off Luis Mendoza. Infante had four hits and five RBIs, both career highs, in the first five innings.
Billy Butler's first-inning two-out single -- his sixth straight hit -- scored Eric Hosmer with the first Kansas City run.
NOTES: C Salvador Perez was back in the Royals' lineup after leaving in the fifth inning Thursday with dizziness. Perez is wearing a new mask and will set up closer to the hitter, in hopes of avoiding more foul tips off the jaw. ... 2B Chris Getz, who suffered a possible concussion Tuesday, has not been cleared to play. ...Tigers OF Nick Castellanos, a 2010 first-round pick, will make his first big league start Saturday in left field. ... SS Jose Iglesias was not in the Detroit lineup Saturday after exiting in the fifth inning Wednesday with shin splints.