Detroit at Kansas City

Scoreboard
Detroit «09001100011110
Kansas City0020001014101

Tigers clinch playoff berth with big win over Royals

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Detroit Tigers had a 220-bottle champagne celebration Sunday and they hope to have even a bigger one later this week.

The Tigers fought off their late-season slump and clinched their first playoff berth since 1987, scoring nine runs in the second inning Sunday and coasting to an 11-4 win over the Kansas City Royals.

"I've been waiting for this," said Brandon Inge, who was given a champagne shampoo by teammates. "You don't think about this in spring training, and then something like this happens."

Enjoying a turnaround season under new manager Jim Leyland, Detroit assured itself of no-worse than the AL wild-card berth and headed into the final week of the season with a 1½-game lead in the AL Central. The Tigers, who regained the best record in the major leagues at 94-62, went ahead early for the second straight day, following up on Saturday's 10-run first.

"We want to send a message that we're not happy just going to the playoffs," Tigers closer Todd Jones said. "We are trying to win our division."

Craig Monroe hit a three-run homer that gave Justin Verlander (17-9) an 8-0 lead and chased starter Runelvys Hernandez (6-10). Inge then homered on Todd Wellemeyer's first pitch.

Detroit's last trip to the postseason was 19 years ago, when the Tigers won the AL East and lost to Minnesota 4-1 in the AL championship series.

"It is really overwhelming," said Tigers owner Michael Ilitch, who bought the team in 1992. "It is probably one of the highlights of my life. In the final outs, we were all holding our breath. After the final out, I did a lot of hugging. We had a bump in the road in late August, but that can be expected over a 162-game season. I never felt like it is not going to happen, but was concerned."

The Tigers set an American League record for losses in 2003, going 43-119, then improved to 72-90 in 2004. But Detroit went 71-91 last season, losing 29 of its last 39 games en route to its 12th straight sub-.500 finish. General manager Dave Dombrowski replaced manager Alan Trammell with Leyland, who teamed with him to lead the 1997 Florida Marlins to a World Series title.

"Those guys out there in the clubhouse made me pretty smart," Leyland said. "I don't take the credit. I think I've been a beneficiary of catching them at the right time. They've done it. They are good players. A lot of guys could have managed this team. I'm so happy for these guys. They are winners now, and forever will be winners.

Dombrowski gave a great deal of the credit to Leyland.

"He steered the ship," Dombrowski said. "He's just a great manager. He's just what we needed."

Leyland had not managed since 1999 with the Colorado Rockies. In addition during the offseason, the Tigers added free-agent pitcher Kenny Rogers, who anchored a staff that included rookies Verlander, Joel Zumaya and Zach Miner. Detroit's offense already had been rebuilt somewhat with the signing of catcher Ivan Rodriguez after the 2003 season and Magglio Ordonez after the 2004 season. The Tigers also acquired shortstop Carlos Guillen from Seattle in January 2004.

Detroit spurted at the start of this season, taking over sole possession of the division lead on May 21 and staying in first place ever since. The Tigers opened a season-high 10-game margin on Aug. 7, when they were a major league-best 76-36, but then went 15-26 before arriving at Kansas City for the weekend series with their division lead down to a half-game over second-place Minnesota

The Tigers swept the Royals, extending Kansas City's losing streak to six. The Royals must win five of their last seven games to avoid their third straight 100-loss season and fourth in five years.

Curtis Granderson's sacrifice fly and Ordonez's two-run, two-out single put the Tigers ahead 3-0, and Guillen and Matt Stairs followed with RBI singles.

Hernandez allowed eight runs, seven hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning, but just one of the runs was earning because of a throwing error by third baseman Jeff Keppinger on Omar Infante's sacrifice.

Verlander, 4 years old when the Tigers last went to the playoffs, allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.

"The Tigers are solid all the way through," Royals interim manager Billy Doran said. "They don't have any holes. People who play them in the playoffs are going to have their hands full."

David DeJesus hit a two-run double in the Kansas City third. Rodriguez doubled in a run in the fifth and Stairs homered in the sixth off Ryan Braun.

Notes

  • The Tigers lead the majors with 49 road wins.
  • The Royals are 0-3 since manager Buddy Bell left the club to have throat surgery on Friday. He will not return this season.
  • The Royals went 34-47 at home, matching 2005.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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The Tigers drink and celebrate in the clubhouse after sweeping  the Royals to secure a playoff berth.  (AP)
The Tigers drink and celebrate in the clubhouse after sweeping the Royals to secure a playoff berth. (AP)

Players of the Game
Detroit

C. Monroe
AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
Detroit

M. Stairs
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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Detroit Tigers
Curtis Granderson, CF4011133 .264
Ivan Rodriguez, C5121002 .293
    Vance Wilson, C0000000 .273
Sean Casey, 1B4000115 .267
    Chris Shelton, 1B0000000 .276
Magglio Ordonez, RF4112113 .296
    Brent Clevlen, RF0000000 .282
Carlos Guillen, SS4111101 .317
    Ramon Santiago, SS0000000 .218
Matt Stairs, DH5222023 .243
Craig Monroe, LF5233000 .260
    Alexis Gomez, PR-LF0000000 .286
Brandon Inge, 3B4211011 .253
Omar Infante, 2B1200210 .284
   a- Kevin Hooper, PH-2B1000011 .000
Totals3711111161019 
a-struck out for Infante in the 9th
Batting
2B - Curtis Granderson (31, Ru. Hernandez), Ivan Rodriguez (28, Wellemeyer), Craig Monroe 2 (34, Ru. Hernandez, Nelson)
HR - Matt Stairs (12, Braun), Craig Monroe (27, Ru. Hernandez), Brandon Inge (26, Wellemeyer)
SF - Curtis Granderson (6)
SH - Omar Infante (2)
RBI - Curtis Granderson (66), Ivan Rodriguez (64), Magglio Ordonez 2 (102), Carlos Guillen (80), Matt Stairs 2 (47), Craig Monroe 3 (89), Brandon Inge (80)
2-OUT RBI - Magglio Ordonez 2 (38), Carlos Guillen (30), Matt Stairs (20), Craig Monroe 3 (36), Brandon Inge (30)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Infante-Guillen-Casey
Detroit Tigers
Justin Verlander (W,17-9) 5622230 3.63
Jason Grilli 1100010 4.18
Jamie Walker 1111010 2.20
Zach Miner 1000020 4.48
Andrew Miller 1211020 3.68
Pitches-Strikes - Justin Verlander 88-57, Jason Grilli 14-12, Jamie Walker 19-12, Zach Miner 18-10, Andrew Miller 19-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Justin Verlander 6-5, Jamie Walker 1-1, Andrew Miller 1-0
Batters Faced - Justin Verlander 22, Jason Grilli 4, Jamie Walker 4, Zach Miner 3, Andrew Miller 5
Kansas City Royals
Joey Gathright, CF5012002 .233
Esteban German, 2B3110011 .336
    Angel Sanchez, SS2000011 .000
David DeJesus, LF3032000 .295
    Mitch Maier, LF1000010 .000
Mike Sweeney, DH4000024 .245
Ryan Shealy, 1B4010010 .281
Shane Costa, RF4000011 .271
Jeff Keppinger, 3B4130000 .222
Paul Bako, C3000012 .209
   a- Paul Phillips, PH1000011 .263
Andres Blanco, SS-2B1210200 .241
   b- Angel Berroa, PH1000001 .234
Totals3641042913 
a-struck out for Bako in the 9th
b-grounded out for Blanco in the 9th
Batting
2B - David DeJesus (34, Verlander), Jeff Keppinger (1, Miller)
3B - Andres Blanco (1, Walker)
RBI - Joey Gathright 2 (39), David DeJesus 2 (51)
2-OUT RBI - Joey Gathright (16), David DeJesus 2 (20)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - Jeff Keppinger (2, )
Kansas City Royals
Runelvys Hernandez (L,6-10) 1.2781211 6.38
Todd Wellemeyer 3.1222331 4.24
Ryan Braun 1111011 8.31
Andrew Sisco 1000120 7.31
Ambiorix Burgos 1000010 5.60
Joe Nelson 1100020 4.08
HBP - Inge (by Runelvys Hernandez)
Pitches-Strikes - Runelvys Hernandez 58-35, Todd Wellemeyer 65-39, Ryan Braun 17-10, Andrew Sisco 21-13, Ambiorix Burgos 17-9, Joe Nelson 20-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Runelvys Hernandez 1-4, Todd Wellemeyer 1-6, Ryan Braun 1-1, Ambiorix Burgos 2-0
Batters Faced - Runelvys Hernandez 16, Todd Wellemeyer 15, Ryan Braun 4, Andrew Sisco 4, Ambiorix Burgos 3, Joe Nelson 4
Game Information
Attendance - 10922
Game Time - 3:00
Temperature - 64
Umpires - Home - Jerry Meals, First Base - Mike Reilly, Second Base - James Hoye, Third Base - Andy Fletcher