Detroit Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter (48) receive congratulation from third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) after hitting a sacrifice fly to score shortstop Jose Iglesias (not pictured) in the seventh inning against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
DETROIT (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - The Detroit Tigers are now one step closer to their third straight AL Central division title with a 6-2 win over the Seattle Mariners tonight at Comerica Park.
Don Kelly had two hits, including a home run, and scored twice. Miguel Cabrera also homered and Austin Jackson had two hits and two RBIs.
Detroit's magic number to clinching the division is now six. The Indians are in Kansas City, Mo., tonight, playing the Royals. If Cleveland loses, the Tigers' magic number will shrink by one more.
Anibal Sanchez struck out 10 over 6 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and two walks on 125 pitches.
It was 2-2 in the seventh when Alex Avila hit a leadoff triple off reliever Yoervis Medina (4-6). Jose Iglesias was then hit by a pitch. With the infield in, Jackson hit a grounder to short and the Mariners got Avila in a rundown, but the runners moved up to second and third. Then, Torii Hunter hit a lineout drive to center that was deep enough to score Iglesias.
After intentionally walking Cabrera, Medina was pulled in favor of former Tiger Charlie Furbush to face Prince Fielder,
With two out in the fourth, Kelly golfed a 2-1 pitch halfway up the rightfield seats for his sixth home run of the season.
That lead stood until there were two outs in the sixth, when Raul Ibanez smashed a solo homer to right-center.
But the game wasn't tied for long. Cabrera, leading off the sixth for the Tigers, cracked a 2-2 pitch to the seats in right for his 44th home run of the season.
In the seventh and with Sanchez's pitch count over 100, Michael Saunders tripled to right and Mike Zunino walked. After Nick Franklin struck out, pinch hitter Kendrys Morales doubled to left-center, scoring the tying run and ending Sanchez's night.
Al Alburquerque (3-3) came in and got Abraham Almonte to pop out to short. Franklin Gutierrez then struck out to end the threat.
Phil Coke opened to eighth, in part to face lefties Kyle Seager and Ibanez. Prince Fielder made a nice diving play to get Seager to ground out to first. Ibanez walked on a full-count pitch. Coke seemed to get the double play ball off Justin Smoak's bat, but Iglesias booted the grounder for an error. Coke then walked Saunders, and Jim Leyland pulled the lefty in favor of another, Jose Alvarez. After a long at bat, Zunino grounded into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.
The Tigers added a few insurance runs in the eighth. Victor Martinez and Kelly hit singles off Furbush and new reliever Carter Capps came in and gave up an RBI single to Omar Infante. Avila then walked to load the bases, but pinch hitter Andy Dirks struck out. However, Jackson hit a two-run single up the middle to make it a four-run game.
Alvarez came back for the ninth and got the first two outs before walking Almonte. The Tigers brought in Jose Veras, who struck out Gutierrez to end the game.
Seattle starter Brandon Maurer went five innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out six.
BY KIRKLAND CRAWFORD/DFP