7/12/2014 1:34 A.M. ET
To Torii, playing Royals 'just another series'
By Jackson Alexander / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- It's tough to dilute the significance of the Tigers' current four-game series with the second-place Royals, but that's just what Torii Hunter prefers to do.
"It's not a big series, it's just another series," said Hunter after Detroit took the first game, 16-4. "We just finished playing the Dodgers, and we took two from those guys and we battled every day. Every game we just came ready to play. Today is the same thing -- we came ready to play, there wasn't no statement. It's a good series because it's in the division, but we're not trying to make a statement or anything."
With Thursday's win, the Tigers extended their grasp on first place to 5 1/2 games, with three games remaining until the All-Star break. That 5 1/2-game advantage is their largest lead since May 31, and it tops all division leaders.
"I've been [in first place] several times, and you don't get caught up in June and the beginning of July and say, 'This is a big series,' because then you have another series with another team and you're going to find yourself kind of burned out," Hunter said.
The series might have significance to some, but according to Hunter, not the Tigers.
"For the fans and the media, yeah. For us, no. We come to play every day the same way. Of course we know we've got a chance to gain some ground, but I don't think we change our approach or anything like that," he said.
Hunter was at the center of the Tigers' 16-run outburst on Thursday, collecting three hits, including a solo home run, and three RBIs. He has upped his average to .485 over his last eight games.
Ausmus falls ill; Lamont leads Tigers
KANSAS CITY -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was absent for most of the Tigers' 2-1 win over the Royals on Friday, as he left in the second inning with an undisclosed illness.
Bench coach Gene Lamont served as manager and led Detroit to its fourth straight win.
Lamont said that Ausmus had felt ill all day and that Ausmus warned him he might not be able to make it through the game.
V-Mart could be out until after the break
p>KANSAS CITY -- It's looking increasingly likely that the Tigers will be without designated hitter Victor Martinez until at least after the All-Star break.
Martinez missed his sixth straight game on Friday with a strained lower right side, and although he earned a spot on the All-Star team on the strength of his .991 OPS in the first half, it was announced prior to the contest that teammate Ian Kinsler would take his place on the American League's active roster.
"I haven't talked to him yet, but I think that's probably the smart course of action right now," manager Brad Ausmus said on the assumption that Martinez would not appear in the four-game series at Kansas City.
Pitcher to be recalled for twin bill with Tribe
KANSAS CITY -- Max Scherzer's inclusion in the 2014 All-Star Game has complicated matters for manager Brad Ausmus as he tries to schedule his post-All-Star break rotation.
But Ausmus did make one thing clear: A starting pitcher will be recalled from the Minor Leagues for the doubleheader against the Indians on the Saturday after the break.
"We have to [bring someone up]," Ausmus said. "It's a doubleheader, otherwise [the rotation] would all be thrown off, so we will bring a pitcher up for one of the two games of that day. That I can tell you for sure.
Ausmus declined to name the pitcher Detroit plans to recall.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.