July 5th, 2014
As expected, no Victor Martinez in the lineup today. Torii Hunter slots in at DH, with J.D. Martinez in right field and Rajai Davis in left. Andrew Romine gets the start at shortstop.
Reminder: Despite the atypical start time, today’s game is a Fox Sports Detroit broadcast. It’s a few hours earlier than normal for a summer Saturday game so that they can get on TV outside of the FOX national broadcast window.
TIGERS (career numbers off Chris Archer)
- Austin Jackson, CF (1-for-2, HR, walk, K)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (0-for-6, 4 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1-for-2, walk)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-3)
- Torii Hunter, DH
- Nick Castellanos, 3B
- Alex Avila, C
- Andrew Romine, SS (2-for-2)
- Rajai Davis, LF
P: Anibal Sanchez
RAYS (career performance against Sanchez)
- Desmond Jennings, CF (0-for-6, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
- Ben Zobrist, SS (3-for-13, 2 walks, K)
- Matt Joyce, DH (4-for-12, double, 2 triples, HR, 4 K’s)
- Evan Longoria, 3B (2-for-9, triple, 2 K’s)
- James Loney, 1B (4-for-10, triple, K)
- Brandon Guyer, LF
- Logan Forsythe, 2B (0-for-2)
- Ryan Hanigan, C (1-for-5, K)
- Kevin Kiermaier, RF
P: Chris Archer
The Oakland Athletics left town on Wednesday having been swept out of Comerica Park. The Tigers were busy with the Rays when the A’s made their move for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
When Justin Verlander heard about the trade later Friday night, he felt the target on their backs. It wasn’t so much about this week, but the last two Octobers.
“I found it very interesting,” Verlander said Saturday. “Really, when I saw that trade, I thought that they made that trade for us. No doubt about it in my mind. If they want to win a World Series, they’re envisioning that they have to go through us, and even though it’s been two fantastic series, it’s been heartbreaking for them the last two years.”
The Tigers and A’s have met in the Division Series the last two years, with both series going to a winner-take-all Game 5. Both times, Verlander broke Bay Area hearts with dominant performances — a complete-game four-hitter with 11 strikeouts in 2012, then eight shutout innings with 10 strikeouts last year. Neither A’s counterpart — Jarrod Parker two years ago, then rookie Sonny Gray last year — delivered a quality start in return.
Oakland has scored one run on Verlander in 31 postseason innings the last two years. With Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez, Verlander said, they have others capable of doing the same.
“When you have a team like ours, somebody’s going to go out there and dominate,” Verlander said. “And it just happens the last couple years [against Oakland in Game 5], it’s been me. And I think they felt like they needed that person. Star power in the playoffs goes a long way. Power pitching in the playoffs goes a long way.”
Regardless of the matchups, Verlander said, it’s the concept.
“I think a lot of factors had to do with why they did it,” Verlander said later. “Obviously October’s the main one, not necessarily us but October in general.”
If the regular season ended today, the Tigers and A’s would have to advance to the ALCS to meet again. Oakland owns baseball’s best record, and would meet the Wild Card winner in a Division Series, while the Tigers would match up with the winner of the AL East, a race the Orioles now lead after the A’s beat the Blue Jays Friday night.
The news out of the Tigers clubhouse on Victor Martinez’s back injury wasn’t a worst-case scenario, but for the short term, it wasn’t OK, either. At the very least, Martinez is out for Saturday’s showdown between Chris Archer and Anibal Sanchez. He didn’t sound particularly optmistic about Sunday night’s series finale against David Price, either.
“I don’t know,” Martinez said. “The way I’m feeling right now, I don’t see it happening.”
That might not be a bad thing. With an off-day Monday, Martinez could take three days of rest before returning for Tuesday’s series opener against the Dodgers.
The Alex Cobb pitch Martinez took off the back of his right leg had nothing to do with it, Martinez said. His leg was fine, even though he looked like he was hobbling around the bases on his way home that inning.
The aggravation, Martinez said, took place on his RBI single his next time up in the sixth inning. It was a similar swing last Sunday in Houston that tweaked his back in the first place.
“One swing,” he said. “That’s all it takes.”
Martinez said the soreness is on his right side, not his left as previously reported. It’s a similar injury to one he dealt with during the 2011 postseason, though his aching knee was a better-known problem at the time since he had limited him to DH duties instead of catching once in a while.
Asked his level of concern, Martinez said, “This is nothing major. I need time to get back like I used to. It’s just a matter of time.”