KANSAS CITY -- Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield doubled and scored, and drove in another run with a sacrifice fly, and the Royals held off the Tigers, 2-1, on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
The Twins beat the Indians, 8-6, eliminating the Royals from postseason contention, and perhaps ending this era of Royals baseball as numerous players can become free agents, including first baseman Eric Hosmer.
"We fell short," Hosmer said. "We're not going where we want to go, but it's not from lack of effort. We did all we can do. We were in it at the break, and we tried to get some pieces to help us out. Really no regrets."
Royals left-hander Jason Vargas went six innings and gave up five hits and one run, winning his 18th game, which tied him for the Major League lead with the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and Cleveland's Corey Kluber.
"Very strong," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Vargas. "Commanded his pitches down in the zone, changed speeds very effectively. Did a great job. Gave himself an opportunity, gave us a chance to win, and himself a chance to win number 18."
Hosmer doubled in a run in the fourth inning, marking his 189th hit this season, which set a career high.
Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez turned in a solid outing, going six innings and giving up seven hits and two runs. He walked one and struck out six, and has struck out 25 batters over 18 innings in three consecutive quality starts.
"I feel really good. I think I've found out a way to finish the hitters," Sanchez (3-6) said. "I think before the last few outings, I just wasn't able to finish hitters. I'd deliver a ball right in the middle, a lot of homers. But I've found a way to strike out guys, get a ground ball, finish innings, cut out rallies."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Merrifield's go-ahead sacrifice fly:Brandon Moss singled in the fifth and with one out, Alex Gordon's single moved Moss to third. That brought up Merrifield, who already had doubled and lined out hard to left. This time, Merrifield lifted a deep fly to right that easily scored Moss and the Royals had a 2-1 lead.
Kinsler gets RBI, vested: Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler put the Tigers ahead, 1-0, in the third with a two-out single that drove in JaCoby Jones, who had walked and stolen second base. The single also happened to be Kinsler's 600th plate appearance this season, which automatically vested an $11 million option for him in 2018. More >
"But the ride's been unbelievable. I've experienced things here that I've never experienced in my life before, made better friends here than I've ever made. I'm just looking forward to getting to put the uniform on one more time." -- Vargas
"I'm good with the way I am right now. I feel healthy. I just want to finish strong. So far I've done it. I don't have a problem with going to the offseason as a free agent. I would like to stay on the team, but it's something that I don't control. We'll move forward after that." -- Sanchez on what his strong finish means for his potential free-agent market
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sanchez's 2.55 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts) at Kauffman Stadium is the best among active Royals opponents (minimum 50 innings). He's 6-6 with a 3.03 ERA in 16 starts overall against the Royals.
The Tigers challenged an out call at second base in the sixth inning, when Kinsler was caught stealing after a one-out single. Replay confirmed that second baseman Merrifield tagged Kinsler before he could reach for the bag.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers:Jordan Zimmermann (8-13, 6.19) makes his final start of the year and second start back from neck issues, hoping improved mobility will allow him to build some momentum toward next season as the series continues Wednesday with an 8:15 p.m. ET first pitch.
Royals: Right-hander Jason Hammel (8-13, 5.32 ERA) will make his team-leading 32nd and final start of 2017 on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. CT against the Tigers. Hammel went 3 1/3 innings last Friday against the White Sox and gave up seven runs and eight hits.