DETROIT (AP) ― It’s been over a decade since the Kansas City Royals were in first place this late in the season, and try as he might, manager Ned Yost couldn’t totally downplay the achievement.
He just wants it kept in perspective.
“It’s nice. We’ve got a lot of games to play. We don’t get all geeked up,” Yost said. “It’s better than the alternative, trust me.”
Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas homered as part of a seven-run second inning, and the Royals displaced the Detroit Tigers atop the AL Central on Tuesday night with an 11-4 victory, their ninth in a row.
Kansas City is in first place this late in the season for the first time since 2003, according to STATS.
The Royals were leading the division in late August that year, only to finish third at 83-79. They have not made the postseason since winning the World Series in 1985.
“A lot of games left, so it really doesn’t matter, but to say you’re in first place, it feels pretty good,” designated hitter Billy Butler said.
“Being in first place any time is good ― even if it’s after the first game.”
Gordon and Moustakas hit two-run shots off Max Scherzer, and Kansas City has won the first two games of this four-game series emphatically. The Royals, who trailed the Tigers by seven games after a May 20 loss, now lead Detroit by a half-game.
Scherzer (8-3) yielded a career high-tying 10 runs in four-plus innings. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner allowed the first eight batters of the second inning to reach base, with Kansas City scoring six runs before making an out.
“I’m just not putting guys away with two strikes. That’s my problem,” Scherzer said. “I’ve taken punches on the chin before, and I’ve come back. I’m not worried about that. I just have to get back to where I’m putting guys away.”
Scherzer did strike out five in the game.
Yordano Ventura (5-5) allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings.
Ian Kinsler hit a solo homer for Detroit.
After winning 86 games in 2013, Kansas City is hoping to unseat the Tigers, who have won the last three division titles. Detroit looked headed for a fourth straight year at the top after a 27-12 start, but now the Tigers are facing a surprising number of questions about their starting rotation, which was expected to be among the best in baseball.
Tanaka earns MLB-best 11th win
NEW YORK (AP) ― Once Masahiro Tanaka overcame that early jolt from Jose Reyes, the Japanese rookie did just fine.
Tanaka gave up a home run to Reyes on the first pitch of the game, then earned his major league-high 11th victory as the New York Yankees beat Toronto 3-1 Tuesday night for their 14th straight home win over the Blue Jays.
That was the first time Tanaka could remember getting tagged so quickly and said it “threw me off my rhythm a little bit.”
“Overall, I think my stuff wasn’t really there,” he said through a translator.
Even so, Tanaka (11-1) struck out 10 in six innings and left with an AL-best 1.99 ERA. The right-hander has made 14 starts this season ― he’s gone at least six innings in every outing and never permitted more than three earned runs.
“What he’s done is remarkable,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He wins.”
Brett Gardner hit a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole and the Yankees sent the AL East leaders to their seventh loss in 10 games.
Tanaka made his big league debut April 4 at Toronto and Melky Cabrera hit a leadoff home run on the third pitch.
Reyes provided an even faster start with a drive into the lower deck in right, and slapped his hands as he rounded first.
Norris, Vogt lead A’s past Rangers
OAKLAND, California (AP) ― Derek Norris hit a home run and drove in five runs, Stephen Vogt was 3 for 3 and drove in two runs and the Oakland Athletics held off the Texas Rangers for an 10-6 victory on Tuesday night.
Tommy Milone (5-3) won his fifth consecutive decision, matching his career-best, as the A’s won their third in four games.
Milone gave up three runs and five hits over 5 2/3 innings in improving to 5-0 over his last eight starts. He walked one and struck out three.
Yu Darvish (7-3) lost his eighth straight to the A’s and the Rangers lost for just the second time in six games.
Darvish allowed seven runs ― four earned ― and eight hits over five-plus innings. He walked five and struck out eight, including Brandon Moss in the first for career strikeout 600.
Roughned Odor hit a home run, tripled and drove in three runs for the Rangers.
Aaron Poreda, who was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock earlier in the game, took over for Darvish with two runners on in the sixth and got two outs before giving way to Shawn Tolleson, who gave up Norris’ home run.
Adrian Beltre gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the first with his two-out RBI single.
Seattle 6, San Diego 1
LA Angels 9, Cleveland 3
Washington 6, Houston 5
Cincinnati 6, Pittsburgh 5
Boston 2, Minnesota 1
Philadelphia 5, Atlanta 2
Miami 6, Chicago Cubs 5
Baltimore 7, Tampa Bay 5
Chicago White Sox 8, San Francisco 2
St. Louis 5, NY Mets 2
Milwaukee 7, Arizona 5
LA Dodgers 4, Colorado 2