Walk-off repeat: Kinsler's homer decks Royals in 11th
By Jeffrey Flanagan and Jason Beck
DETROIT -- Ian Kinsler belted a leadoff homer in the bottom of the 11th inning off rookie reliever Miguel Almonte to give the Tigers a walk-off win for the second straight game in the series, this time, 6-5, on Saturday night at Comerica Park.
The Royals' magic number to clinch their first American League Central crown dipped to four as the Twins dropped both games of a day-night doubleheader. The Royals' lead over Toronto for home-field advantage throughout remained at one game, as they fell to 3-6 on their present trip.
"You don't like it," manager Ned Yost said. "But we're the same team we've been all year long. We've got some guys whose bats have cooled off. When they heat up, that's when we'll take off again.
"We're getting a lot of help but we're not helping ourselves."
The Tigers' fourth straight win is their longest streak since they won their first six to open the season.
Detroit appeared to have won it in the ninth, when Andrew Romine hit a fly ball to center off Royals reliever Luke Hochevar, scoring Kinsler. Center fielder Jarrod Dyson made a strong throw home, but off line, and catcher Salvador Perez had to stretch back toward home plate for the tag.
The Royals asked for a crew-chief review and the safe call was overturned as the Tigers fans howled.
"I thought I beat it," Kinsler said. "When I came in from the inning, [replay] showed the web of his glove move."
Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez grinded through six innings, giving up seven hits and three runs. He walked four and struck out six.
Tigers left-hander Matt Boyd threw six innings and gave up three hits and two runs. He struck out six.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Miggy coming back around: While the Tigers celebrated Star Wars Night at Comerica Park with a Miguel Cabrera poster giveaway, Cabrera continued to battle out of his September doldrums. An easy swing produced an opposite-field line drive for a two-run single to open Detroit's scoring in the third. Cabrera, who ended an 0-for-20 slump on Friday night, added a single and a run scored in the fifth inning.
"Miggy's starting to heat up again, I think," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Tired bullpen: Yost was without his big four relievers -- Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland -- all of whom needed a day off because of recent workloads. That left Yost to turn to right-hander Chris Young to try and protect a 4-3 lead in the seventh. But Young struggled with his command and wound up walking Cabrera on four pitches. He got behind J.D. Martinez 3-0 and on that pitch, Martinez nearly hit a two-run homer, flying out to deep right-center. Young again fell behind Victor Martinez. And Victor didn't miss on a 3-1 offering, blasting it into the right-field seats for a two-run homer. More >
"Just made a bad pitch," Young said. "I didn't want to let Cabrera get into scoring position. I was hoping he'd foul it off."
Royals' power ball:Kendrys Morales came into this game just 8-for-32 on the road trip, but he belted an opposite-field homer in the second inning, his 18th blast of the season. Mike Moustakas smashed his 20th jack of the season in the fifth, tying a career high. Moustakas also tied a career high in RBIs with 73. Eric Hosmer tied the score at 5 in the eighth with his 15th homer -- his first blast since Aug. 14, a span of 118 at-bats.
Gorzelanny gets it done: On a night when the Tigers lost leads on an Al Alburquerque two-strike wild pitch and a home run off closer-turned-setup man Bruce Rondon, left-hander Tom Gorzelanny carried them through extra innings with two scoreless frames on one hit with two strikeouts, including a key strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play to fan Morales and catch Hosmer trying to take second.
"He pitched outstanding," Ausmus said. "He hadn't pitched in almost a week, but he was very good tonight against that left-handed part of their lineup and a couple righties as well. As a result, he gets a win for two solid innings."
ROYALS ASK FOR CHALLENGE
The Royals asked for a challenge on the Cabrera hit-by-pitch in the ninth with a runner on first. After review, the call was ruled as stands, Cabrera took first and Kinsler took second base with none out.
"It's definitely a huge downer. You go from one extreme to another. It's probably most difficult for [Andrew] Romine because he's got Gatorade all over his shirt." -- Ausmus, on his team having to regroup to continue playing after replay overturned the would-be winning run
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Saturday's win evened the season series at 9-9 against the Royals, with one game to go. A win on Sunday would give the Tigers a winning mark against all four opponents in the AL Central, pending seven more games against the White Sox.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Kris Medlen (4-1, 3.92 ERA) will get the ball on Sunday at 12:08 p.m. CT for the finale of this three-game set at Comerica Park. Medlen is coming off arguably his best start with the Royals -- 6 1/3 shutout innings vs. Cleveland on Tuesday.
Tigers: Right-hander Alfredo Simon (13-9, 4.91) will start the series finale on Sunday at 1:08 p.m. ET. Simon hasn't faced the Royals since April 30, when he allowed six runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings.