KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Eric Hosmer made a strong statement in his case to be the AL's rookie of the year.
"Hosmer is going to keep getting better and better," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's that special type of player. He's really starting to get comfortable here. I was amazed by one of the singles he hit to right field that looked like it was eight inches outside and he just leaned out and hit a bullet. He hit it so hard we couldn't score a run from second."
Hosmer's five-hit game was the first by a Royals player since Billy Butler on July 27, 2009. He couldn't remember ever having five hits in a game at any level.
"You sense the excitement in here," Hosmer said. "We've been on a hot streak of late. Our offense has been rolling and now the pitchers are doing awesome."
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The 21-year-old raised his average to .300 with 18 home runs and 75 RBI since he was promoted May 6 from Triple-A Omaha.
"He looks like he's got a chance to be a really special player and he's a two-way player," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's a good defender as well. He's going to be a big hit in this league for a long time. He's got to be a top candidate for rookie of the year."
Mendoza, the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year after going 12-5 with a league-best 2.18 ERA, held the Tigers to two runs, one unearned, and six hits in seven innings in his first big league appearance since April 19, 2010.
Mendoza said he is not the same pitcher that was in the Royals bullpen last April when he gave up 10 runs on 10 hits in four innings before being sent to the minors.
"Right now I'm pitching where before I was just throwing," Mendoza said. "I tried to throw my sinker wherever they go. Right now my command is better. My breaking ball is better. There's a lot of difference."
Mendoza (1-0) got his first major league victory since Aug. 3, 2008 while with the Texas Rangers, an 8-4 decision over Toronto.
"I was real happy for Mendoza," Hosmer said. "It was his night. All the fans and everyone around Kansas City have heard so much about him. For him to come out and do what he's been doing in the minor leagues was huge for us."
Hosmer's three-run homer off Brad Penny highlighted a six-run fourth inning to put the game out of reach. Perez homered with Mitch Maier aboard the next inning after fouling off five consecutive pitches from Duane Below.
Alex Gordon started the bottom of the first with his fifth leadoff homer of the year.
Penny (10-11) allowed seven runs on 10 hits in four innings to lose for the first time since Aug. 28.
Austin Jackson's double in the fifth scored Andy Dirks with the first Detroit run. Ramon Santiago, who reached on second baseman Johnny Giavotella's error, scored on Delmon Young's sacrifice fly in the seventh for the other Tigers run.
While the Tigers have clinched the AL Central, manager Jim Leyland said his club is "still fighting for home-field advantage" for the playoffs. ... Leyland said he would rest 1B Miguel Cabrera Wednesday. "He deserves it," Leyland said. "We're going to get home late and he'll play the rest of the way out." ... Butler was scratched from the Royals lineup with the flu. Maier replaced him, making his first career start at DH. ... Royals closer RHP Joakim Soria remains sidelined with a strained right hamstring. He has not pitched since Sept. 11. ... RHP Felipe Paulino will make his third start against the Tigers on Wednesday. He is 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA against Detroit. The Tigers will start right-hander Max Scherzer, who went to the University of Missouri and was the 2005 Big 12 Conference pitcher of the year as a sophomore.