KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One of the biggest games at Kauffman Stadium in decades wound up being a one-sided rout.
Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer, everyone in the Detroit starting lineup had a hit by the fourth inning and the Tigers pounded Jason Vargas and the second-place Kansas City Royals 10-1 on Friday night to add another game to their AL Central lead.
Justin Verlander (14-12) had all the support he needed by the end of the first inning, when the Tigers had shelled Vargas (11-10) for three runs on five hits. Detroit tacked on a run in the second, another in the fourth and then broke things open with a five-run fifth.
The Tigers (85-68), who now lead the division by 1 1/2 games, have forged their advantage by dominating head-to-head matchups. They are 12-5 against the Royals his season.
Lost amid the offensive onslaught was a fine performance by Verlander, who had struggled his last three times out. The former Cy Young winner allowed one run on seven hits in 7 1-3 innings.
Vargas allowed five runs on nine hits in 3 1-3, his shortest outing since April 16, 2013.
Kansas City came into the weekend off a momentum-building win over the White Sox, and a day off Thursday allowed anticipation of the series to swell. Fans snatched up every last ticket, pounding the plastic "thundersticks" given away at the turnstiles as the Royals opened arguably their most important set of games since the 1985 World Series.
It took about 15 minutes for silence to grip the ballpark.
Kinsler led off the game with a single, and after Torii Hunter flied out, the Tigers rapped out three straight hits to take the lead. Hunter got his hit the next inning, an RBI double, and James McCann became the last Detroit player in the starting lineup with a hit in the fourth.
His single and ensuing stolen base were the first of McCann's career.
Royals relievers Casey Coleman and Louis Coleman could do little to stop the bleeding as the Tigers pounded out 15 hits by the fifth inning. And those fans that had packed "the K" to see the first act of a pennant-chase drama? Many were already streaming for the exits.
That included 35-year-old Victor Martinez, whose run-scoring single in the first inning gave him 100 RBIs to go with 31 home runs. The only players older than him to become first-time members of the 30-100 club have been Carlton Fisk (1985) and Edgar Martinez (2000).
Tigers: C Alex Avila remains sidelined with concussion-like symptoms. He tried working out Friday but again felt dizzy. ... RHP Anibal Sanchez (strained chest muscle) had no issues after a bullpen session Thursday. He plans to throw a simulated game Sunday.
Royals: LHP Tim Collins was recalled from Triple-A Omaha. The Royals considered bringing him back a few weeks ago, but Royals manager Ned Yost said a back injury kept him in the minors.
Tigers: RHP Max Scherzer (16-5) tries to beat Kansas City for the second time in less than two weeks. He allowed one run over 6 1-3 innings in a 4-2 victory on Sept. 9.
Royals: RHP James Shields (14-7) beat Detroit at Comerica Park the following day, tossing seven shutout innings. He only allowed two hits and a walk in that game.