Kansas City, Mo. — 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 11â2-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 (is) 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."
Granderson led off the game for the fifth time this season with a home run. His triple to right scored Placido Polanco and Chris Shelton.
"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 among his three hits. Every Tigers starter reached base in the first except for Craig Monroe, who grounded out twice.
Notes: Detroit's Kevin Hooper, a Lawrence High graduate, came in as a replacement at second base and walked in his only plate appearance. ... 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. ... Royals 2B Esteban German went 0-for-4, snapping his career-high nine-game hitting streak.