DETROIT — 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.
YANKEES 3, BLUE JAYS 1
NEW YORK — Masahiro Tanaka gave up a home run to Jose 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 for their 14th straight home win over the Blue Jays.
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 (11-1) struck out 10 in six innings and left with an AL-best 1.99 ERA. The Japanese rookie has made 14 starts this season — he’s gone at least six innings in every outing and never permitted more than three earned runs.
Dellin Betances worked two innings and David Robertson closed for his 17th save.
Pitching about 50 miles from his Long Island hometown, Blue Jays rookie Marcus Stroman (3-2) threw 98 pitches in 3 2-3 innings on a sticky night.
RED SOX 2, TWINS 1
BOSTON — Brock Holt scored both Boston runs, Jon Lester weathered a shaky start and pitched six-plus strong innings as the Red Sox held off Minnesota.
Lester (8-7) has a winning record for the first time this season. The Red Sox have won two straight and four of six.
PHILLIES 5, BRAVES 2
ATLANTA — Ryan Howard homered and Kyle Kendrick won consecutive starts for the first time in 11 months for Philadelphia.
The Phillies, winners of two straight and six of eight, got a solid start from Kendrick (3-6), who had gone 2-11 in his previous 20 starts since last Aug. 11. Kendrick allowed six hits and two runs with one walk and six strikeouts in seven innings.
BREWERS 7, DIAMONDBACKS 5
PHOENIX — Jonathan Lucroy homered twice, including a grand slam in an eventful seventh inning, to lead Milwaukee past Arizona.
Lucroy’s slam to center came on Brad Ziegler’s first delivery after Arizona reliever Evan Marshall was ejected for hitting Ryan Braun with a pitch.
Marshall (2-2) took the loss, facing three batters without getting an out after relieving starter Mike Bolsinger, who was called up from Triple-A Reno earlier in the day.
MARINERS 6, PADRES 1
SEATTLE — Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer and Jesus Montero got his first big league homer in more than a year to help Seattle sweep a two-game set with San Diego.
Roenis Elias (6-5) allowed three hits and struck out six without a walk in seven strong innings. Dominic Leone and Danny Farquhar each pitched an inning in relief.
ANGELS 9, INDIANS 3
CLEVELAND — Mike Trout homered twice and drove in four runs, and rookie Matt Shoemaker remained unbeaten as a starter as Los Angeles beat Cleveland.
Trout’s three-run homer in the fifth broke a 3-all tie and capped a four-run inning. He added a leadoff homer in the seventh. The two-time All-Star was 3 for 5, extending his hitting streak to 12 games, and has reached base safely in 35 of his last 36 contests.
MARLINS 6, CUBS 5
MIAMI — Garrett Jones hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning and Miami rallied to beat Chicago.
Adeiny Hechavarria started the Marlins’ seventh with a bunt single for his fourth hit. Rafael Furcal had a two-out, two-run single in the fourth for his first RBIs since 2012.
ORIOLES 7, RAYS 5
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Chris Davis hit a replay-delayed grand slam to lead Baltimore past Tampa Bay.
Davis was awarded a slam off Erik Bedard (3-5) during a five-run third-inning after a video review showed his drive struck the foul pole. He reached second base on an opposite-field shot down the left-field line. The review that lasted 1 minute, 18 seconds revealed the ball hit the pole a few feet above the wall, and Davis was given a home run.
NATIONALS 6 ASTROS 5
WASHINGTON — Anthony Rendon doubled twice and drove in three runs, and Washington opened a six-game homestand with a win over Houston.
Ryan Zimmerman added two doubles and two RBIs as the Nationals snapped a four-game losing streak.
Tanner Roark (6-4) pitched five innings in winning his third straight start. Rafael Soriano worked the ninth for his 14th save.
DODGERS 4, ROCKIES 2
LOS ANGELES — Hanley Ramirez homered before leaving with a hand injury, and Zack Greinke pitched Los Angeles to a win over Colorado.
Matt Kemp also went deep and Carlos Triunfel hit his first major league home run after replacing Ramirez.
Greinke (9-3) gave up a run and three hits with five strikeouts in six innings, and tied St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright and Cincinnati’s Alfredo Simon for the NL lead in wins.
CARDINALS 5, METS 2
ST. LOUIS — Michael Wacha escaped a pair of jams with strikeouts, Yadier Molina hit his first homer in nearly four weeks and St. Louis won for the eighth time in nine games.
Wacha (5-5) gave up a run and five hits in six innings and Molina got his first homer since May 24.
David Wright hit his first homer since May 28, and Lucas Duda also connected for the Mets, who have lost 11 of 14.
WHITE SOX 8, GIANTS 2
CHICAGO — Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo hit two-run home runs, John Danks pitched effectively into the seventh inning and the White Sox snapped a four-game losing streak.
The slumping White Sox had managed a total of six runs during their skid.
Viciedo, who was just 2 for 23 on the homestand coming in, went 2 for 4. His fifth-inning blast ended a stretch of 51 at-bats without an RBI.
REDS 6, PIRATES 5
PITTSBURGH — Todd Frazier led off the ninth inning with a tiebreaking homer, lifting Cincinnati past Pittsburgh after the Reds’ bullpen blew a three-run lead.
Frazier’s team-leading 16th home run to center field came off closer Jason Grilli (0-2) and gave the Reds third fifth win in six games. Cincinnati (34-35) also got within one game of .500 on its ninth try.
ATHLETICS 10, RANGERS 6
OAKLAND, Calif. — Derek Norris homered and drove in five runs, Stephen Vogt was 3 for 3 with two RBIs and Oakland held off Texas for its third win in four games.
Tommy Milone (5-3) won his fifth consecutive decision, matching his career-best, for the A’s. 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.
Darvish allowed seven runs — four earned — and eight hits over 5-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.