September 18th, 2013

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Mariners

It’s a different looking lineup today as Jim Leyland weighs trying to play some right-handed hitters against right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma — who has actually been slightly tougher on left-handed hitters (.217 average, .603 OPS this year) than he has on righties (.235 average, .698 OPS) — with wanting to rest a couple right-handed hitters for Thursday’s matinee against lefty James Paxton. Torii Hunter is off, and Don Kelly gets a second consecutive start. Matt Tuiasosopo gets another start as Leyland gives him a chance to get going. He was already set to play left field Thursday, so he’ll get three consecutive starts in four days to try to make his case for postseason consideration.

Omar Infante is feeling OK despite sore quadriceps, but Leyland decided to give him the night game off before the day game against Paxton. Hernan Perez gets the start over Ramon Santiago.

The Mariners lineup features 42-year-old Henry Blanco behind the plate. Kendrys Morales is back in the cleanup spot, and his numbers off Verlander aren’t bad at all.

The bullpen is pretty close to full strength with Benoit and Smyly back from their days off. The one key out is Bruce Rondon, and it sounds unlikely he’ll be available this homestand. He threw long toss today and felt fine, but he’ll need to do that again tomorrow before being scheduled to throw off a mound again this weekend.

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

TIGERS (career numbers against Iwakuma)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (0-for-4, K)
  2. Don Kelly, RF (0-for-2)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (1-for-3)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B (2-for-4, K)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (0-for-1, walk)
  6. Matt Tuiasosopo, LF
  7. Alex Avila, C (0-for-4, K)
  8. Hernan Perez, 2B
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-2, K)

P: Justin Verlander

MARINERS (career numbers against Verlander)

  1. Dustin Ackley, CF (2-for-6, 2 K’s)
  2. Franklin Gutierrez, RF (9-for-35, 2 HR, 2 walks, 10 K’s)
  3. Kyle Seager, 3B (3-for-4)
  4. Kendrys Morales, DH (8-for-21, HR, 5 K’s)
  5. Justin Smoak, 1B (3-for-8, HR, walk, 5 K’s)
  6. Michael Saunders, LF (2-for-14, 4 K’s)
  7. Nick Franklin, 2B
  8. Henry Blanco, C (1-for-3)
  9. Carlos Triunfel, SS

P: Hisashi Iwakuma

Larry Parrish back as Mud Hens manager

From the moment the Tigers parted ways with Phil Nevin as Mud Hens manager, Larry Parrish seemed like the obvious candidate to replace him. He had the job for nearly a decade, becoming the Hens’ winningest manager in the process, and the Tigers value both him and his evaluations on players. The move became official today.

Parrish left Toledo after the 2010 season to take a job as Atlanta Braves hitting coach, a position he held for a year. He returned to the organization this year and managed at low Class A West Michigan, but his value and his temperament best fit Triple-A and its combination of older prospects and veterans.

It’ll be the third stint in Toledo for Parrish, who managed the team from 1994 to ’97 and again from 2003 to 2010. He missed the 2007 for health reasons.

The one new face in Toledo will be the pitching coach. Al Nipper, who had been the Tigers’ roving pitching coordinator, essentially will swap spots with A.J. Sager, who had been the Hens pitching coach since Jeff Jones was promoted to Detroit in 2007. Leon Durham returns as hitting coach.

Game 151: Cabrera gets his swing back

Yes, it seemed like a long time to Miguel Cabrera, too.

“It’s been a long time [that] I don’t hit a home run,” Cabrera said after his solo homer Tuesday night. “It feels good right there. A long time.”

Three weeks, 14 games and 47 at-bats, to be more accurate.

The lead Cabrera’s 44th home run of the season created didn’t last long. The Mariners, who had tied the game in the sixth inning before Cabrera pulled the Tigers ahead, tied it again in the next inning.

The sense of relief over Cabrera’s first home run since Aug. 26 lasted a lot longer than the lead it created.

“I hit a couple balls in Chicago and here [last week] that maybe [had a chance to] go out,” Cabrera said, “but something was wrong with my swing. The ball didn’t carry very well. Right now I feel much better, and I feel on my swing the ball’s carrying again.”

After a first-inning walk, Cabrera flew out to center his second time up Tuesday, taking a fastball from Brandon Maurer before getting under a slider. He didn’t swing at a fastball until he goe one with a 2-2 pitch in the sixth inning. The result was a no-doubt launch to right-center field.

“He’s a great hitter. He’s just been missing,” manager Jim Leyland said.

Cabrera tied his career high in homers set last year. He briefly moved with six of Chris Davis’ AL lead before Davis hit his 51st home run minutes later. With 11 games left, Cabrera would need a miraculous finish to make up that kind of gap, even if Davis didn’t hit another home run the rest of the way. At this point, a third consecutive batting title looks like his eventual crown.

The big-picture goal, getting Cabrera back in form for the postseason, seems more attainable than it did even just a few days ago. He has been moving around better on his own, even dancing a bit around the clubhouse, in recent days. The only time he seemed noticeably hampered moving around was when he charged in from third on Michael Saunders’ fifth-inning bunt.

“I think that’s the only play [where] I’ve got problems right now,” Cabrera said. “The rest I feel very good.”