DETROIT – Max Scherzer was finally willing to do a bit of scoreboard watching.
For the Detroit Tigers, a fourth straight AL Central title is within reach.
“I’ve said the whole time I’m not worried about what Kansas City does, and I’m focused only on what we do, but this is the first time this season, I actually want Kansas City to lose,” Scherzer said. “That way we can come to the park (Friday) and win, and clinch it.”
Scherzer didn’t get his wish — the second-place Royals won Thursday night — but the Tigers had already reduced their magic number to two with a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins. Detroit needs more than just a victory to clinch the division Friday — but if the Tigers win and the Royals lose, the Central will belong to Motown again.
The Tigers, who have already wrapped up a postseason spot, lead Kansas City by two games with three to play.
Scherzer made it through six tough innings, Victor Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first and Miguel Cabrera added a solo shot in the fourth. Detroit’s bullpen, so often a problem this year, breezed through the final three innings without allowing a baserunner.
Scherzer (18-5) allowed two runs and five hits. He struck out nine and walked four.
Minnesota’s Trevor May (3-6) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
Martinez gave Detroit an early lead with his 32nd homer of the year. Cabrera’s 24th made it 3-0, but the Twins made Scherzer work. After escaping trouble in the second and fourth, the right-hander allowed a two-run double to Joe Mauer in the fifth.
Royals 6, White Sox 3
In Chicago, Eric Hosmer homered and drove in two runs, Lorenzo Cain had four hits and scored twice and Kansas City put itself on the verge of a playoff spot by beating the White Sox.
One more win for the Royals, or a loss by Seattle, will send Kansas City to the postseason for the first time since George Brett led the team to a World series title in 1985.
Norichika Aoki was 1-for-4 for the Royals.
Rangers 2, Athletics 1
In Arlington, Texas, Adrian Beltre hit a walk-off homer in the ninth, and the Rangers kept Oakland from getting closer to clinching an AL wild-card spot.
Mariners 7, Blue Jays 5
In Toronto, Logan Morrison hit two home runs, Mike Zunino also connected and Seattle kept its faint playoff hopes alive.
For the Blue Jays, Munenori Kawasaki was 0-for-3 with a run and a walk.
Red Sox 11, Rays 1
In Boston, Rusney Castillo and Christian Vazquez each hit his first major league homer, and Allen Webster pitched seven solid innings to carry the Red Sox over Tampa Bay.
Reds 5, Brewers 3
In Cincinnati, Brandon Phillips hit his first home run in almost three months and rookie David Holmberg pitched six solid innings as the Reds officially ended Milwaukee’s postseason hopes.
Pirates 10, Braves 1
In Atlanta, Edinson Volquez threw seven scoreless innings, Travis Snider and Neil Walker hit homers and Pittsburgh moved within one game of the NL Central lead.
Giants 9, Padres 8
In San Francisco, Hunter Pence scored the go-ahead run on Matt Duffy’s squeeze bunt in the Giants’ three-run seventh, hours after they clinched a playoff berth with Milwaukee’s loss at Cincinnati.
San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval had a season-high four RBIs.
Mets 7, Nationals 4 (1st)
Nationals 3, Mets 0 (2nd)
In Washington, Gio Gonzalez struck out a career-high 12 and allowed just one hit through seven innings as the Nationals beat New York to split a day-night doubleheader.
In the second game, Zack Wheeler (11-11) allowed three runs over five innings in the loss as the Mets were ensured of their sixth consecutive sub-.500 season.
Marlins 6, Phillies 4
In Miami, former Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagle Casey McGehee had three RBIs, including a two-run, tiebreaking double in the seventh inning.