Detroit The Detroit Tigers head to Yankee Stadium for the playoffs, knowing all too well how close they were to winning the AL Central title and opening at home.
Needing one more victory to clinch the division, the sagging Tigers lost their final five games of the season. They wound up with the wild card after Sunday's disappointment - wasting a six-run lead and then watching All-Star starter Kenny Rogers lose in relief 10-8 to the last-place Kansas City Royals in 12 innings.
"We got beat," Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson said. "Kansas City played great. They outhit us, they outscored us and we ended up getting swept by them."
Detroit will open the playoffs on the road Tuesday night against the Yankees.
"Once we get to New York, we'll be ready to go," first baseman Sean Casey said. "It's a new season come Tuesday night."
Nate Robertson will start for Detroit in Game 1 and rookie Justin Verlander (17-9) is scheduled to pitch Game 2.
Minnesota wound up as the Central champion, and will start the playoffs at home against Oakland.
If the Tigers had won, they would've finished with an identical 96-66 record as the Twins - and Detroit would've won the division crown because of its 11-8 mark against Minnesota.
The Royals, tied with Tampa Bay for the worst record in the majors, completed their first three-game sweep in Detroit since 1980.
"It was neat to see our kids play and fight hard," interim Royals manager Bill Doran said. "Maybe they can learn something and grow from what they did this weekend."
Detroit loaded the bases with one out in the 11th, but Brandon Inge and Granderson both struck out.
"We had a chance, we were in the driver's seat the whole time. All we can do is blame ourselves," Granderson said.
In the 12th, Esteban German's RBI single and Emil Brown's bases-loaded walk off Kenny Rogers won it for the Royals.