The scrappy second baseman wasted no time getting the Tigers into gear, singling and scoring in the first inning, as Detroit forged a 3-0 lead. Kinsler went on to double and homer in four subsequent at-bats, driving in three runs as the Tigers routed the Royals, 10-1.
Justin Verlander held Kansas City to one earned run on seven hits over seven innings for his 14th win against 12 losses.
The result moved Detroit 1 1/2 games up on the Royals in the AL Central and made the wild card chase the closest it has been all season, with three teams - Oakland, Kansas City and Seattle - all within one game of each other.
The A's and Mariners were both winners on Friday, putting Oakland up by 1/2 game over the Royals, with Seattle another 1/2 game back. Oakland and Seattle have just nine games remaining in the regular season (Kansas City, 10), meaning there are no days off until the season ends on Sunday, September 28. Two teams will be wild cards, playing a one-game playoff at the home of the team with the better record.
The Yankees, winners of four straight, are 4 1/2 behind KC, but are quickly running out of time.
Game two of Detroit's series at Kansas City is slated for 1:05 pm EDT on Saturday.
|Cuddyer: GS, 7RBI|
Going 3-for-5 with two doubles and a grand slam, Cuddyer drove in seven runs and scored three runs as the Rockies and Diamondbacks play out the string, both teams long since having fallen out of post-season contention.
Elsewhere, the Dodgers improved their lead in the NL West to 3 1/2 games with a 14-5 slaughter of the Cubs in Chicago, while the Giants lost at San Diego, 5-0. In the Central, St. Louis squeezed out another close win, taking a 2-1 decision over Cincinnati. St. Louis leads Pittsburgh by 2 1/2 games in the division. Washington has already clinched the East.
The wild card is all but decided, that only matters remaining being what teams will be in which positions. Currently, the Giants have a one-game lead over Pittsburgh, but the Pirates are red-hot, having won five in a row, including Friday's 4-2 victory over the Brewers, which left Milwaukee 4 1/2 games behind the Pirates and with little chance of catching up.
Naturally, all positions could change, but the four remaining playoff spots appear to be split between St. Louis, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.