DETROIT — The Kansas City Royals signed Kendrys Morales last offseason to add some power to what had been a fairly punchless offense in 2014.
"We expected him to have a great year," manager Ned Yost said.
Morales has indeed been productive, and on Sunday he enjoyed what might have been the best offensive game of his big league career, hitting three home runs in a 10-3 win over the Detroit Tigers. Morales also hit a triple and set a team record with 15 total bases.
The Royals lowered their magic number to three to clinch the AL Central, which would be their first division title in 30 years. Christian Colon had a career-high four hits, and Paulo Orlando also homered for Kansas City.
Morales homered in the third, fourth and eighth innings, becoming the first Kansas City player to go deep three times in a game since Danny Tartabull against Oakland on July 6, 1991. Morales ended up scoring five times on the day, but he was on deck when Eric Hosmer flied out and ended the top of the ninth.
The Royals won the American League pennant last year, but they finished last in the majors in home runs. They've shown more pop in 2015, thanks in part to Morales, who took over the team lead in homers Sunday with 21. Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez have 20 each.
"It's not about competition, it's just about putting up good ABs and everybody doing their part," Morales said through a translator.
Kris Medlen (5-1) allowed three unearned runs and five hits in five innings for Kansas City, which leads second-place Minnesota by 11 games in the division.
Detroit's Alfredo Simon (13-10) allowed eight runs and 13 hits in 4 1-3 innings.
Danny Duffy pitched four innings for his first career save.
Morales became the second player with 15 total bases in a game this season. Yoenis Cespedes of the New York Mets did it at Colorado on Aug. 21.
George Brett held the previous Royals record of 14 total bases. He did it in a 16-inning game in 1979.
The Royals scored two runs in the first, and Morales homered to lead off the third. Orlando's two-run homer later that inning made it 5-0.
Detroit scored three runs in the third, but Morales answered that with a solo homer the following inning. His third home run of the day was also a solo shot, easily clearing the wall in right off reliever Jeff Ferrell.
"They had 19 hits, so it wasn't just him, but yeah, that was obviously a pretty good show," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's a switch-hitter who can hit the ball over 400 feet from both sides of the plate and he's a run producer."
The Royals might have scored even more if not for baserunning mistakes in each of the first three innings. With men on first and third in the first, Lorenzo Cain got caught in a rundown between first and second when Simon made a pickoff throw to first. During the rundown, a throw hit Cain, but Detroit 2B Andrew Romine was able to grab the ball out of the air and make the tag.
With men on first and second in the second, Hosmer hit a single to right. Ben Zobrist tried to go from first to third, but Colon — the runner in front of him — stopped at third. The Tigers trapped Zobrist between second and third, and when Colon broke for home, they threw him out at the plate.
Colon was also picked off first in the third.
Royals: SS Alcides Escobar (elbow contusion) sat out a second straight game after hurting himself Friday night.
Tigers: All-Star SS Jose Iglesias (broken right middle finger) remained out of the lineup. He hasn't played since Sept. 3.
Royals: Return home to face Seattle on Tuesday night. Jeremy Guthrie (8-7) starts for Kansas City against Hisashi Iawkuma (8-4).
Tigers: Host the Chicago White Sox in a doubleheader Monday. Detroit's Kyle Ryan (2-3) faces Jeff Samardzija (9-13) in the opener, and Randy Wolf (0-3) starts for the Tigers against Erik Johnson (2-0) in the second game.