August 24th, 2012

Cabrera at DH Friday against Angels

The Tigers lineup is out, and Miguel Cabrera is at designated hitter to watch the wear and tear on his right ankle. Delmon Young moves from DH to left field, and Andy Dirks moves to the bench for a night. Ramon Santiago fills in at third base.

Jim Leyland said Friday afternoon that he doesn’t know how many games he’ll need to DH Cabrera. He put Cabrera there tonight on the recommendation of the team medical staff.

As for starting Young over Dirks, remember he said last week that Delmon would be starting pretty much every day down the stretch. He sees him as a bigger impact act than the alternatives.

“I was hoping Cabrera could play [third],” Leyland said, “because I wanted to get another lefty [hitter] in there, but Delmon’s been hitting the ball pretty hard, so I wanted to play Delmon. This just means one lefty can’t play.”

Leyland said he was going to start Brennan Boesch regardless Friday, and he stuck to the plan. He’s in right field, batting fifth behind Prince Fielder. Omar Infante sticks in the second spot against right-hander Zack Greinke.

On the Angels side, no Albert Pujols tonight. He’s dealing with tightness in his right calf. We’ll see whether he plays at all this weekend.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Omar Infante, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Brennan Boesch, RF
  6. Delmon Young, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Ramon Santiago, 3B

P: Rick Porcello

ANGELS

  1. Mike Trout, CF
  2. Maicer Izturis, 3B
  3. Torii Hunter, RF
  4. Kendrys Morales, DH
  5. Mark Trumbo, 1B
  6. Howard Kendrick, 2B
  7. Erick Aybar, SS
  8. Vernon Wells, LF
  9. Chris Iannetta, C

P: Zack Greinke

Verlander vs. Sale next Sunday night?

Jim Leyland has used the Tigers’ recent rash of off-days to give Justin Verlander an extra day between starts for the last couple turns in the rotation. This stretch coming up is why.

They’re off next Monday before going to Kansas City and then hosting the White Sox, but Leyland confirmed yesterday he’ll start Verlander on his regular four days’ rest and pitch him Tuesday in KC, slotting him ahead of Anibal Sanchez in the pitching order. More importantly, that puts him in line to face the White Sox — twice.

The Tigers will open with Max Scherzer against the White Sox next Friday night, then Doug Fister on Saturday (if he’s healthy, or Drew Smyly if he’s not), then Verlander on Sunday night on ESPN. That series finale could be huge, if the White Sox keep their rotation in order, because Chris Sale would be in line to start for Chicago.

It would be a matchup of two AL Cy Young award candidates (not necessarily the two front-runners, the way David Price is pitching lately). It would also be another challenge for the Tigers lineup against a tough left-hander, something they could also get on Saturday against Francisco Liriano.

The Tigers are responsible for half of Sale’s four losses this year and eight of the 45 earned runs he has allowed. Five of those came over seven innings July 21 at Comerica Park, including a three-run home run from Brennan Boesch. He has gotten back into his high-strikeout form in August, including 13 strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Yankees on Wednesday in Chicago.

By shuffling the rotation, Verlander will also get two more starts against postseason contenders, facing the Angels in Anaheim and getting a rematch with the White Sox during the four-game series in Chicago in mid-September.

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