Miguel Cabrera had four hits, including a homer during a five-run sixth inning, as the Detroit Tigers held off the Kansas City Royals 6-3 on Monday night to clinch the AL Central title.
Gerald Laird added a bases-loaded double, Rick Porcello (10-12) pitched shutout ball into the sixth inning and Jhonny Peralta went deep off Bruce Chen (11-14) to help Detroit reach the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 1934-1935.
After hanging over the dugout railing the entire ninth inning, the Tigers streamed onto the field and behind the pitchers’ mound to celebrate their accomplishment the moment Jose Valverde got Alcides Escobar to ground out to shortstop with a runner on second for his 35th save in 40 chances.
The Tigers (87-73) will have the worst record among AL division champions, which means they will open the playoffs on Saturday at home against the division winner with the second-best mark.
Cabrera, making a run at baseball’s first Triple Crown since 1967, broke a tie with Texas slugger Josh Hamilton for the major league lead in homers with his 44th, a solo shot to right.
Prince Fielder also had four hits.
YANKEES 10, RED SOX 2
In New York, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira homered in a nine-run second inning, and New York routed Boston to open a one-game lead over Baltimore in the AL East with two games to play.
Baltimore lost at Tampa Bay and dropped into second place, prompting cheers from the Yankee Stadium crowd when the final score was posted before the ninth inning.
The Yankees, who clinched their 17th playoff berth in 18 years on Sunday, would ensure their 13th division title in 17 years by sweeping the three-game series against the Red Sox.
New York tied their record for home runs in an inning, achieving the feat for the third time. The offense backed C.C. Sabathia (15-6), who allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings with seven strikeouts.
Alex Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly to end a streak of 11 games without an RBI. He tied Stan Musial for fifth place on the career list at 1,950.
Boston, starting what may be their final series under first-year manager Bobby Valentine, have lost six in a row and 10 of 11, reaching 91 defeats for the first time since dropping 100 games in 1965.
The Red Sox started just two regular position players, Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Clay Buchholz (11-8) was roughed up for a career-high eight runs and six hits — three of them homers — in 1-2/3 innings.
In other AL action, it was:
‧ White Sox 11, Indians 0
‧ Blue Jays 6, Twins 5, 10 Inns
‧ Athletics 4, Rangers 3
‧ Angels 8, Mariners 4
‧ Rays 5, Orioles 3
Thanks to strong pitching from Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper’s burst of energy and Adam LaRoche’s slugging, the Washington Nationals won enough from April through last month that even a loss on Monday could not stop them from clinching the NL East.
Despite being beaten 2-0 by the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night, the Nationals earned their first division title since moving from Montreal in 2005, because the second-place Atlanta Braves lost 2-1 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Washington, in first since May 22, lead Atlanta by three games with two to play in the regular season. The Braves’ loss finished as the top of the ninth inning ended in Washington, and the Nationals celebrated in their dugout with hugs, high-fives and spiked gloves.
PIRATES 2, BRAVES 1
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Atlanta Braves’ hopes of winning the National League East ended with a loss to the Pirates that gave the division title to the Nationals.
The Braves, who needed to sweep the Pirates and have first-place Washington drop three games to Philadelphia to tie for the division lead, will instead be the top wild card team and host the wild card game on Friday.
Starling Marte hit his sixth home run of the season and scored twice to lead the Pirates.
Atlanta managed just two hits against Pittsburgh’s Jeff Locke (1-3), who picked up his first major league win. Jared Hughes worked the ninth for his second save in place of regular closer Joel Hanrahan.
Paul Maholm (13-11) gave up two runs in seven innings while losing to his former team for the first time, striking out eight and walking three.
CARDINALS 4, REDS 2
In St Louis, Missouri, Jaime Garcia homered off Bronson Arroyo and pitched into the seventh inning, helping the Cardinals clinch a share of the second NL wild card spot and spoil Dusty Baker’s return from a mini-stroke.
The defending World Series champions have won 11 of 14 and lead the Dodgers by two with two games to play.
Arroyo (12-10) threw 73 pitches while allowing three runs over five innings in a tuneup for the postseason. He topped 200 innings for the seventh time, but is 0-3 in his last four starts.
In other NL action, it was:
‧ Dodgers 3, Giants 2
‧ Astros 3, Cubs 0
‧ Marlins 3, Mets 2
‧ Brewers 5, Padres 3
‧ Rockies 7, Diamondbacks 5