Tigers' bats blast Royals to stretch Central lead

Kinsler's homer in five-run fifth backs Verlander's strong outing

Tigers' bats blast Royals to stretch Central lead

KANSAS CITY -- The Tigers insist they weren't trying to make a statement with their 10-1 win over the Royals on Friday night.

"I don't want to say statement game," said starter Justin Verlander, who took a shutout into the eighth and seemed irked at the one run he gave up. "But I think it was about the best possible scenario for us to start the series."

Torii Hunter, who coined the term "Septober" and has latched onto it since, wasn't buying it either.

"There's no statements or anything that we're trying to prove," he said. "We just go out and play the same game we know how to play. Our intent is to just play the game and keep going. Statements are for you guys and the fans."

Yet there might be a statement to come out of the onslaught that goes beyond the gap between Detroit and Kansas City, now 1 1/2 games in American League Central standings but seemingly bigger in style of play.

It means nothing come Saturday afternoon, when the two teams go back at it in a 1 p.m. ET start with Max Scherzer opposing James Shields. However, it's a reminder just what the Royals are up against in trying to win this division.

With their season on the line, the Tigers turned in one of their most complete games of the season, from arguably Verlander's best outing since last October to double-digit runs by the fifth.

"I think it's been like that a few years here," Verlander said. "We seem to play our best baseball when we need to, and this is obviously a need-to moment. That's why I love these guys."

The Tigers also played with an intensity that hasn't been seen since last October. Miguel Cabrera made a safe sign in front of Salvador Perez after sliding home with the second run in a three-run opening inning off Royals starter Jason Vargas, then he bounded off the field after finishing a double play to end the fourth. Verlander pitched into the eighth inning with a 10-0 lead, then he looked irked at leaving a runner on third base as he exited with one out.

"Guys do recognize the moment. I think that's what makes this team so special," Verlander said. "I think this entire team, especially the veterans, recognize the moment. This is one of those moments when you need to step up, and obviously I wasn't the only one. We scored 10 runs."

They scored 10 and looked like they could've scored more if needed. Eight of Detroit's starting nine had a hit off Vargas (11-10), who gave up five runs on nine hits over 3 1/3 innings. Seven of the nine had scored a run by the time Ian Kinsler's two-run homer -- his 15th of the year -- put Detroit into double digits in the fifth.

Six different Tigers starters had multi-hit games, including rookie catcher James McCann in just his second Major League start. Kinsler fell a triple shy of the cycle in a three-hit, three-RBI performance.

"They came out swinging the bats tonight," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "We just flat-out got beat. They beat us in all aspects of the game and there's nothing we can do about this one tonight."

The Royals had their chances, too. But when Billy Butler, Verlander's Kryptonite for much of his career, swung at a 3-0 pitch and popped out to short right field with runners at second and third and one out in the second inning, it summed up the night.

Butler went hitless against Verlander for the second straight game; his 0-for-5 streak against Verlander ties the longest hitless stretch of his career. Salvador Perez hit a bloop single over Cabrera's head to continue his hot hitting off Verlander, but the catcher had little else.

Detroit has now won 12 of 17 games from Kansas City this season, including seven of eight at Kauffman Stadium. Five of the Tigers' wins here have been by five or more runs.

"If we knew why," Hosmer said, "we'd definitely do something about it."

None of those previous 16 had an atmosphere like this, though. Not only did the Royals fill the park, they passed out ThunderStix to make extra noise. By the time the Tigers went up by double digits, they were largely quiet, awakened only when Johnny Giavotella scored on a Jayson Nix sacrifice fly to end the shutout.

Verlander watched from the dugout, seemingly irritated at giving up a run. The result might not have made a statement, but the attitude does.

"That's what I love about this team," Verlander said. "We always seem to know the moment and know how to capture it."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.