June 8th, 2013

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Indians

Originally, this was supposed to be Justin Masterson’s start for the Tribe. Instead, Masterson is starting Sunday, and Carlos Carrasco is making the start today. The Tigers have way fewer at-bats against Carrasco, but he held Miguel Cabrera to 1-for-7 in 2009 and 2010. Torii Hunter, on the other hand, is 3-for-6 with two home runs off of him. I had both of them on my Beat the Streak list when Masterson was the scheduled starter, but decided to go with Hunter by himself when the pitching change happened.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

TIGERS (numbers off Carrasco)

  1. Andy Dirks, LF
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (3-for-6, 2 HR, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (1-for-7, walk, K)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-2)
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS (2-for-3)
  7. Alex Avila, C (1-for-3, K)
  8. Omar Infante, 2B
  9. Avisail Garcia, CF

P: Rick Porcello

INDIANS (numbers off Porcello)

  1. Michael Bourn, CF
  2. Jason Kipnis, 2B (5-for-18, HR, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  3. Nick Swisher, 1B (6-for-22, HR, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
  4. Michael Brantley, LF (7-for-25, HR, 3 walks, K)
  5. Mark Reynolds, 3B (4-for-10, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  6. Carlos Santana, DH (9-for-27, 3 HR, 2 walks, 7 K’s)
  7. Yan Gomes, C (2-for-4, K)
  8. Ryan Raburn, RF (0-for-2, K)
  9. Mike Aviles, SS (2-for-6)

P: Carlos Carrasco

Sanchez scratched with upper back/shoulder stiffness

The Tigers were one of the last couple teams in the big leagues to get through the season with just five starters so far. The way their rotation has been pitching, they didn’t look like they had any changes coming soon. With an injury to Anibal Sanchez, however, they’re about to need a spot starter.

Jim Leyland announced this afternoon that Sanchez will not make his scheduled start Sunday. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand characterized the injury as shoulder stiffness, while Sanchez said it was more around his upper back. 

Sanchez said he had the same injury last year in spring training with the Marlins, but skipping a start cleared it up. The fact that he was able to throw his side session yesterday makes it sound like much the same thing, but time will tell.

With Sanchez out, the Tigers are calling up left-hander Jose Alvarez from Triple-A Toledo to make what they hope is a spot start. Had this whole thing happened early in the year, Drew Smyly would’ve probably filled in. At this point, however, Smyly isn’t stretched out enough to cover more than a few innings.

The Tigers signed Alvarez as a minor-league free agent last offseason. He currently leads the International League with 76 strikeouts while ranking second with a 2.42 ERA and third with 74 1/3 innings.

The hubbub over the handshake

By now, you know the deal with Jim Leyland and his handshakes. It’s his way of congratulating his starting pitcher on a good effort. If he gives his starter a handshake on his way into the dugout at the end of an inning, he’s done. It’s the way to tell whether the Tigers are going to the bullpen for the next inning.

The Tigers starters obviously know it, too. On Friday, Justin Verlander tried to circumvent the system, as he put it. His manager didn’t take too kindly to it.

Verlander had just thrown a seven-pitch seventh inning and had 108 pitches on the night. That was clearly enough for Leyland, who was waiting at the dugout steps to greet him like he always does. Verlander was headed that way when he took a right turn and swerves towards the other dugout steps.

“Leyland always stands right there at the end of the stairs,” Verlander said. “He put me back out for the seventh, and I only threw like four or five pitches, so I tried to circumvent the system, and not get the customary handshake that you’re done. So I tried to go the other way and sneak around him, but he was too quick for me and caught me at the bottom of those stairs anyway.”

He was smiling about it. It didn’t become apparent until after the game that Leyland didn’t find it funny.

“You might think that was comical,” Leyland said, “but I don’t think that was comical at all.”

That was all Leyland wanted to say about it, apparently realizing what kind of attention that was about to bring.

“I’m not getting into that,” Leyland said a minute later. “I’ve made my statement about that. Let’s move on. I’m not talking about silly stuff. Let’s talk about baseball.”

Leyland, of course, does his postgame interview before Verlander. When Leyland’s reaction was relayed to Verlander, you could see Verlander genuinely surprised.

“If he wants to be mad, he can be mad,” Verlander said, “but I mean, I wanted to stay in the game. I had a quick inning and I wasn’t trying to play a joke on him. I just wanted to stay in the game. You know he always stands there and sticks out his hand so I figured if I snuck around him he’d let me go back out there.”

If Verlander was trying to send a message, Leyland sent his.