August 26th, 2014

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Yankees

Much like the Jimmy Buffett concert last month, center field took some damage from the Eminem/Rihanna concerts last weekend. Like last month, it should recover, but it’s looking a little rough out there. Add in the water from storms that rolled through a couple hours before gametime, and it could be a little messy out there. It’s the domain of Rajai Davis tonight.

As expected, Miguel Cabrera returns to the lineup, playing first base.

TIGERS (career numbers off Brandon McCarthy)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-21, double, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (8-for-19, 3 doubles, HR, walk, 5 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (4-for-15, 2 doubles, 4 walks, 4 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (9-for-24, 5 doubles, HR, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, LF (1-for-3, 2 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Alex Avila, C (2-for-13, 3 K’s)
  8. Eugenio Suarez, SS (0-for-2, K)
  9. Rajai Davis, CF (2-for-8, 2 doubles, walk, 2 K’s)

P: Rick Porcello

YANKEES (career numbers vs. Porcello)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (8-for-13, double, 2 HR, walk)
  2. Derek Jeter, DH (2-for-18, double, K)
  3. Brian McCann, C
  4. Mark Teixeira, 1B (4-for-18, walk, K)
  5. Carlos Beltran, RF (4-for-8, walk, K)
  6. Martin Prado, 2B (2-for-7)
  7. Stephen Drew, SS (2-for-7, double, HR, 2 walks, K)
  8. Chase Headley, 3B (3-for-6, double, HR)
  9. Ichiro Suzuki, RF (11-for-28, 2 doubles, 4 K’s)

P: Brandon McCarthy

Tigers reportedly put in waiver claim on Qualls

The Tigers might have one more trade for bullpen help in them yet. Oddly enough, they can thank their recent fall out of the AL Central and Wild Card leads in part for getting in a last-minute waiver claim on Astros closer Chad Qualls.

Peter Gammons of MLB Network first reported that the Tigers had the primary claim on Qualls, who was a last-minute placement on the waiver wire after the Astros held onto him at the July 31 non-waiver deadline. That followed Ken Rosenthal’s report Monday evening that Qualls had been claimed on revocable waivers.

Under terms of revocable waivers, the Astros have 48 hours (thus, until Wednesday) to work out a trade, pull him back off waivers, or let him go on waivers.

At this point, it’s too early to tell whether the two teams, who put together a trade for then-Astros closer Jose Veras last summer, can work something out on Qualls. The Tigers were interested in Qualls last month before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, but the Astros were reticent to deal. Detroit put together a trade with the Rangers for Joakim Soria instead.

One potential factor is the sentiment of Qualls, who does not have veto power but has said more than once that he wants to remain an Astro. Qualls signed a two-year, $5.95 million deal last December to return to his original organization, spurning interest from the Tigers among other teams.

Qualls’ contract is very manageable, having joined Houston on a two-year deal worth $5.95 million with a $3.5 million club option for 2016. He has said repeatedly, including last night, that he wants to remain in Houston, though he doesn’t have a say in it.

“I’ve been traded a bunch of times in my career and it’s no different,” Qualls told Houston reporters, including’s Brian McTaggart. “I chose Houston because it’s close to home and I want to help this team win and I feel like I’ve been doing the best I can this year.

“Like I said all year, I’d like to stay here this year and obviously beyond that and finish my career as an Astro. It’s not in my hands, though, so I don’t really put too much thought into it.”

The Tigers were able to acquire the Astros’ last closer, Jose Veras, last summer for outfielder Danry Vasquez and pitcher David Paulino. With Qualls’ contract, however, the Astros will probably seek more advanced prospects. Houston had a pro scout in Reading, Pa., while Double-A Erie was in town this past weekend.

It’s more likely the Astros pull him off waivers than trade him, according to McTaggart.

Soria was in the Tigers bullpen for about two weeks before a left oblique strain landed him on the 15-day disabled list. He’s throwing off flat ground and is “trending upward” towards a return, according to manager Brad Ausmus, but still has to throw off a mound. His return is on the horizon, but not imminent.

The Tigers tried to fill part of the void last week with former Orioles/A’s closer Jim Johnson, who earned a win at Tampa Bay with a scoreless 10th inning despite walking two Rays, but then gave up four runs in a nine-run sixth inning in Friday’s 20-6 loss to the Twins. Johnson came back Sunday and retired all five batters he faced, his longest perfect outing since April 11 with Oakland.

The 36-year-old Qualls is 14-for-17 in save chances in Houston to go with a 3.07 ERA, 46 hits and 38 strikeouts over 44 innings. He has walked just five batters this season, and two were intentional. His 11-year-old Major League history has seen him protect leads anywhere from the seventh to ninth innings, much like the role the Tigers had for Soria.

Just because the Tigers made the first claim doesn’t mean they’ll be able to pull off a deal. The Astros were more willing to trade a young starter than their veteran reliever before the non-waiver deadline, and they’re still trying to win games down the stretch to demonstrate progress. Houston needs eight wins in its last 30 games to avoid 100 losses for the first time since 2010, and their near.500 record over the last month or two suggests an outside shot to avoid 90 losses.