Torii Hunter's single followed a leadoff triple by Austin Jackson in the first inning, and that was all Scherzer (21-3) and manager Jim Leyland's Tigers needed to start the party.
Scherzer gave up two singles in seven innings. Jose Veras and Drew Smyly teamed up for the eighth and Joaquin Benoit worked the ninth for his 24th save in 25 tries.
A few dozen Tigers fans in attendance at Target Field cheered from their seats while Miguel Cabrera and his teammates mobbed Benoit in front of the mound after he struck out Josh Willingham to end the game.
Scherzer struck out 10 and lowered his ERA to 2.90, ensuring he'll finish the season with the most wins in the major leagues.
Kevin Correia (9-13) took the loss.
RAYS 8, YANKEES 3
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Yankees failed to make the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years, getting mathematically eliminated during their loss to Tampa Bay.
Evan Longoria homered twice as the Rays won their sixth straight and lowered to three their magic number over Texas for clinching an AL wild-card berth.
Slowed by age and hobbled by injury, the Yankees (82-76) were chased with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning when Cleveland completed a 7-2 win over the White Sox.
Despite baseball's highest opening-day payroll at $230 million, the Yankees failed to claim one of the 10 playoff spots. Since starting the latest run of success in 1995, New York had missed the playoffs only in 2008.
David Price (9-8) ended a five-start winless streak, one shy of his career worst, and Longoria drove in four runs. Phil Hughes (4-14) allowed three early runs.
RANGERS 7, ASTROS 3
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Leonys Martin hit a three-run double, Ian Kinsler homered and the Texas Rangers kept pace in the AL wild-card chase, handing Houston its 12th loss in a row and team-record 108th defeat this season.
Texas completed a three-game sweep and finished 17-2 with 11 straight wins against their instate rival.
The Rangers remained a game behind Cleveland for the AL's second wild-card spot — Tampa Bay is a game ahead of the Indians. Texas has four games left in the regular season, with the series opener at home against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
Rookie left-hander Martin Perez (10-5) struck out eight over seven innings. Dallas Keuchel (6-10) took the loss.
INDIANS 7, WHITE SOX 2
CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookie Danny Salazar gave Cleveland a much-needed quality start and Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer as the Indians tightened their grip one of the AL wild-card spots with their 14th straight win over the Chicago White Sox.
Salazar (2-3) struck out eight in 5 1-3 innings for the Indians, who won their final six home games to stay with the wild-card leaders.
The Indians lead Texas by one game for the second wild-card slot. They are one game behind Tampa Bay for the top spot.
Swisher homered in the fifth inning off Dylan Axelrod (4-11) as the Indians finished the season 16-2 against Chicago.
ANGELS 3, ATHLETICS 1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jered Weaver pitched seven innings of five-hit ball, Josh Hamilton drove in two runs and the Los Angeles Angels did a bit more damage to Oakland's home-field playoff hopes.
Erick Aybar had three hits in the Angels' final home game of their disappointing season.
Dan Straily (10-8) allowed seven hits while pitching into the seventh inning of his first loss since Aug. 17 for the AL West champion A's.
Weaver (11-8) finished his season impressively after missing last week's scheduled start with tightness in his right forearm.
Ernesto Frieri pitched the ninth for his 37th save.
MARINERS 6, ROYALS 0
SEATTLE (AP) — Hisashi Iwakuma pitched eight scoreless innings and Mike Zunino homered twice as the Seattle Mariners ended Kansas City's playoff hopes.
All three teams ahead of Kansas City in the wild-card hunt — Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Texas — won on Wednesday. The Royals' loss eliminated them.
Ervin Santana (9-10) matched Iwakuma (14-6) and kept the Mariners scoreless for the first four innings before Seattle broke through.
ORIOLES 9, BLUE JAYS 5
BALTIMORE (AP) — Ryan Flaherty hit a pair of two-run homers, Jonathan Schoop had a solo shot in his big league debut and the Baltimore Orioles beat Toronto to snap a six-game skid and clinch their second straight winning season.
Steve Pearce also homered for Baltimore and Chris Davis doubled in a run to increase his RBI total to 137, tied with Detroit's Miguel Cabrera for the major league lead.
T.J. McFarland (3-1) pitched one inning of relief for Baltimore and Jason Hammel worked 2 1-3 innings for his first save since 2011.
Esmil Rogers (5-9) yielded six runs in 4 1-3 innings.