Miguel Cabrera had four hits, including a homer during a five-run sixth inning, and the Detroit Tigers held off the Kansas City Royals 6-3 Monday night to clinch the A.L. 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 1934-35.
The Tigers (87-73) will have the worst record among A.L. division champions, which means they'll open the playoffs Saturday at home against the division winner with the second-best mark.
Not that when and where matters much to Jim Leyland's bunch.
They're just glad to be back in the playoffs.
"It was a rocky road, it was a tough season, but in this business, you have to be able to take some hits," Leyland said. "This isn't a place for the fainthearted."
After winning the division by 15 games last season and signing Prince Fielder in the offseason, the Tigers entered spring training with lofty expectations. But they got off to a surprisingly slow start and were below .500 in early July. They were still well behind Chicago early last month.
The White Sox faltered, though, and the Tigers took advantage.
Yankees lead East: Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira homered in a nine-run second inning, and the New York Yankees routed the Boston Red Sox 10-2 to open a one-game lead over Baltimore in the A.L. East with two games to play. Baltimore lost 5-3 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.
"There's a lot of teams that would love to be in our position right now," Teixeira said. "You can count all of the things that have gone wrong but, hey, we're right here where we want to be."
Nationals clinch East: Despite being beaten 2-0 by the Philadelphia Phillies, the Washington Nationals earned their first division title since moving from Montreal in 2005, because the second-place Atlanta Braves lost 2-1 at Pittsburgh. 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.
Reds: Dusty Baker missed Cincinnati's division-clinching win. He watched Homer Bailey's no-hitter on TV. Back for his first full day on the job after recovering from a mini-stroke in Chicago, the veteran manager takes it as a sign there'll be more good news ahead.
"The way I look at it, the big one's to come," Baker said "I'm fine now. I'm not 100 percent, but I'm pretty close."