DETROIT— Rookie Dixon Machado drilled a two-out RBI single in the 12th inning off Royals closer Greg Holland as the Tigers rallied for a 5-4 walk-off win on Friday night at Comerica Park.
Kansas City’s magic number to clinch the American League Central remained at six as the Twins were rained out against the Angels. The Royals’ lead over the Blue Jays for home-field advantage throughout the postseason dropped to one game (Toronto owns the tiebreaker). By beating the Royals, the Tigers ensured that Kansas City will not be able to clinch the division this weekend in Detroit.
Royals rookie Paulo Orlando produced an RBI groundout that scored speedy pinch-runner Terrance Gore in the top of the 12th to give the Royals a 4-3 lead. But Holland walked Tyler Collins with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the 12th, tying the score and setting up Machado’s heroics.
“It was calm and nervous at the same time, because it’s a moment that you’ve been dreaming of all your life,” Machado said. “But he left that pitch high and I just got a good swing on it.”
Holland blew his fifth save of the season, but said his confidence level remained high. Asked why, he said, “I think I’ve thrown some pretty good outings the last nine or 10 times so I didn’t even think I was struggling.”
Royals manager Ned Yost said he thought Holland was going to get out of the jam. But later in the postgame session when asked further about Holland, Yost said, “I’m done talking about Greg.”
Royals ace Johnny Cueto, who had lost five straight over a span in which his ERA was 9.57, was terrific on Friday. Cueto held the Tigers to one run through seven innings before giving up a leadoff double in the eighth. He gave up eight hits and two runs overall, while walking one and striking out four.
Justin Verlander went 8 2/3 innings for the Tigers, giving up two runs and just five hits. He struck out seven. Verlander was pulled after giving up a two-out single to Eric Hosmer. Right-hander Alex Wilson came in and served up a two-run homer to Salvador Perez, tying the score at 3.
“It was a good win,” Verlander said. “Obviously the ninth inning didn’t go the way we wanted, but we battled back against a really, really tough bullpen and came back and were able to win it. I’m really happy for Dixon and the team.”
Royals second baseman Omar Infante, who had a career-high seven RBIs on Thursday, left the game with a left oblique strain. Shortstop Alcides Escobar also left the game after getting hit by a pitch on his left elbow.