October 16th, 2012

ALCS Game 3 lineups: Tigers vs. Yankees

If you were expecting changes in the Tigers lineup compared to their other postseason matchups with right-handed starting pitchers, you haven’t been paying attention. It might have been a little tempting against Phil Hughes, who allowed a .308 batting average to right-handed hitters to compared to just .211 to lefties.

The big lineup news tonight comes from the Yankees, who replaced both Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher. In their place are Eric Chavez, who hit the ball all over the fence during the Yankees’ four-game series here in August, and Brett Gardner, who could give New York an extra speed threat to try to manufacture some offense.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (1-for-12, 5 K’s against Hughes)
  2. Quintin Berry, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (9-for-22, 4 HR, 9 RBIs off Hughes)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH
  6. Andy Dirks, RF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS (10-for-20, 5 RBIs off Hughes)
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Omar Infante, 2B

P: Justin Verlander

YANKEES

  1. Brett Gardner, LF (5-for-11 off Verlander)
  2. Ichiro Suzuki, RF (17-for-55, 12 K’s off Verlander)
  3. Mark Teixeira, 1B (3-for-35, 12 K’s off Verlander)
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B (7-for-38 off Verlander)
  5. Raul Ibanez, DH (3-for-29 off Verlander)
  6. Russell Martin, C
  7. Eric Chavez, 3B
  8. Curtis Granderson, CF (4-for-20, 8 K’s off Verlander)
  9. Eduardo Nunez, SS

P: Phil Hughes

Leyland: Valverde could close tonight

The first question asked of manager Jim Leyland Tuesday afternoon was whether Jose Valverde would be the closer for Game 3 if the situation warranted. The answer was maybe.

It could simply be managerspeak, leaving the opposing team guessing how his bullpen would unfold. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t rule it out.

“I’m going to wait and see how things play out,” Leyland said. “It could happen. I’ll wait and see how things play out, how the lineup looks, who’s coming up.”

Later, Leyland said he had “two or three plans in place” for how he’d go in the ninth inning. Valverde is part of at least one of those plans.

“I can tell you right now I don’t have a definite closer etched in stone tonight,” Leyland said.

World Series tickets go on sale Wednesday

By now, you know the deal: The Tigers and other Major League teams sell tickets for the next playoff round early. With a 2-0 lead in the ALCS and Justin Verlander on the mound tonight trying to give them a 3-0 advantage, though, the timing seems fitting to put World Series tickets on sale.

Tickets for potential Tigers home games in the Fall Classic go on sale Wednesday morning at 10am ET. As with tickets for the other two postseason rounds, they’ll be sold online at tigers.com and by phone at 866-66-TIGER.

Unlike when ALCS tickets went on sale last week, we know what days the Tigers would be at home for the World Series. Since the National League won the All-Star Game, the NL champion has home-field advantage. The American League champion, whether it’s the Tigers or Yankees, will host Games 3-5, scheduled for Saturday-Monday, Oct. 27-29.

Ticket sales will be limited to four tickets to one game, per buyer.

Leyland hopes Valverde’s ready “in the very near future”

There was no off-day workout in Detroit on Monday, so the media access was limited to conference calls. That included manager Jim Leyland, who continued to carefully walk a tightrope on Jose Valverde’s status.

In title, as expected, he remains the closer. In actuality, the Tigers still have a closer by committee for now, and he’s going to play the matchups. But Leyland sounded like somebody who didn’t plan on having Valverde on hiatus for long.

“I am hoping that Valverde in the very near future is ready to take back over,” Leyland said. “As I said, that is pretty important that we have him.”

Leyland has talked about the importance of getting Valverde back as a part of this bullpen. Monday was the first time he directly referenced getting him back closing, other than saying he’s the closer.

On that same conference call, however, he sounded like Valverde’s still very much a work in progress.

“We have to make sure we get Valverde straightened out,” Leyland said. So you do what it takes to win the game. Whatever you think is your best option, that’s what you do.”

Valverde wasn’t available Monday, but he said after Sunday’s win that his pregame side session with pitching coach Jeff Jones went well.

“It’s good — so far,” Valverde said.

Ticket update: Games 3 and 4 virtually sold out, about 1,500 left for Game 5

Word from the Tigers as of Monday evening was that Games 3 and 4 were sold out, though Game 3 single tickets and some pairs were popping up online at tigers.com as of late Monday night. Technically, a team can have limited tickets available and still have the game considered a sellout for attendance purposes. So if you want to go see Justin Verlander face the Yankees with the chance to put Detroit on the doorstep of the World Series, it looks like there’s still an opportunity.

About 1,500 tickets remain available for Game 5 Thursday afternoon, according to the team.

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