Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez both are out for a second consecutive game. Kinsler needs a symptom-free day per concussion protocol, so his symptoms yesterday ruled him out. He said today he’s feeling encouraged, but still has to go through baseball activity before he can be cleared for tomorrow. Martinez apparently was feeling improvement in his right knee, but isn’t quite ready yet.
“He said he’s better,” manager Brad Ausmus said, “but from his description, he could use another day.”
Though Ausmus said Tuesday that Steven Moya could see time at DH if Martinez remains out, Justin Upton gets a day out of the field, with Tyler Collins starting in left.
TIGERS (numbers vs. Berrios)
- Cameron Maybin, CF (0-for-0, walk)
- Erick Aybar, 2B
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (0-for-2, 2 walks)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-3, walk, K)
- Justin Upton, DH (0-for-3, walk, 2 K’s)
- Tyler Collins, LF (0-for-1, 2 walks)
- James McCann, C (3-for-3, double, HR)
- Andrew Romine, 3B (0-for-3)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-1, double)
P: Buck Farmer
TWINS (career numbers off Farmer)
- Brian Dozier, 2B (2-for-3, 3 walks)
- Jorge Polanco, SS (0-for-2, walk)
- Joe Mauer, DH (2-for-4, double)
- Kennys Vargas, 1B (1-for-3, 2 K’s)
- Max Kepler, RF
- Robbie Grossman, LF (0-for-3, K)
- Eduardo Escobar, 3B (1-for-4, K)
- Juan Centeno, C
- Byron Buxton, CF (0-for-2, K)
P: Jose Berrios
Matt Boyd had a week between starts against the Twins to make adjustment safter giving up seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings at Comerica Park. But he knew what the adjustments were relatively quickly.
“Not a whole lot of tweaking, more just refining,” Boyd said beforehand. “Sometimes there’s just one or two little things that can take you out of your delivery.
They were smaller tweaks. But the results were vastly different. It wasn’t just about the run difference, but the pitches that led to it.
Boyd had a half-dozen swings and misses from Twins hitters over 74 pitches last week in Detroit. This time around, he had a half-dozen swinging strikeouts. He had 13 swings and misses out of 99 pitches, seven off his fastball alone. And until back-to-back 15-pitch innings in the seventh and eighth, including a Robbie Grossman homer in the seventh, Boyd not only had a chance at his first career complete game; he had a chance to get it done in less than 100 pitches, known as a Maddux.
He didn’t get it, but he got arguably the best performance of his Major League career. And he got it against the team that handed him one of his worst starts of the season.
“It was good to see Boyd bounce back, really,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He had an outstanding game. He did an excellent job. He saved our bullpen, pitched well, got the win. It was good for him to bounce back.”
The key to the difference was pitch location. When he missed his location last week, he missed by a lot, and he tended to miss over the middle of the plate. This time, he was more refined, missing by smaller margins and in areas where he couldn’t get pounded.
“The mechanical adjustment that we made, it’s just about location,” Boyd said. “If you can actually command it, it’s small, not big misses.”
He also had all of his pitches working at one time or another, no time more obvious than his five consecutive strikeouts from the end of the third inning into the fifth. Brian Dozier struck out swinging at an 89 mph slider, a pitch that didn’t get him results last time. The changeup that sent down Jorge Polanco swinging was a workhorse pitch for him most of the game. Robbie Grossman struck out on a foul tip off a 92 mph fastball. Kennys Vargas went down hacking at the slider. Kurt Suzuki chased the 0-2 changeup for a strikeout to lead off the fifth before Max Kepler hit the first pitch he saw from Boyd and grounded out.
Boyd retired 18 of 19 batters after Dozier led off Boyd’s outing with a single through the middle. Boyd had just two three-ball counts in that stretch, one of them the second-inning walk to Kepler that broke up the string.
“He just didn’t have his command when he saw the Twins the last time,” Ausmus said. “He had all four pitches working, used them all, but he was able to throw strikes.”
He didn’t use them all equally, moreso the fastball-changeup combination. Yet even with just 15 or so sliders and changeups, he got results, allowed no hits but inducing five swings and misses.
Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez are both out of the lineup. Kinsler is officially in concussion protocol based on symptoms suffered after taking a Trevor Bauer pitch off his helmet on Sunday. He still felt grogginess while riding an exercise bike as part of the concussion test Tuesday, according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. Meanwhile, Martinez’s right knee — which also took the impact of a Bauer pitch on Sunday — swelled up, leaving him having trouble simply moving around.
TIGERS (career numbers off Santiago)
- Cameron Maybin, CF (1-for-3, K)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (2-for-12, 3 walks, K)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (4-for-19, 2 HR, 4 walks, 3 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (6-for-15, double, 2 HR, 3 K’s)
- Justin Upton, LF (2-for-7, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
- James McCann, DH (2-for-9, double, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
- JaCoby Jones, 3B (1-for-2)
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C (0-for-4, 2 K’s)
- Andrew Romine, 2B (2-for-3, walk, K)
P: Matt Boyd
TWINS (career numbers against Boyd)
- Brian Dozier, 2B (4-for-11, double, HR, walk, 4 K’s)
- Jorge Polanco, SS (4-for-6, double, HR, K)
- Robbie Grossman, LF (3-for-4, double, HR, 2 walks)
- Kennys Vargas, 1B (1-for-2)
- Kurt Suzuki, DH (1-for-6, walk)
- Max Kepler, RF (1-for-4, walk, K)
- Eduardo Escobar, 3B (0-for-5)
- John Ryan Murphy, C (0-for-1, walk, K)
- Byron Buxton, CF (0-for-4, K)
P: Hector Santiago
The Tigers don’t usually take a whole lot of batting practice on Sunday mornings, but after Saturday’s 10-inning shutout, they were out on the field hitting, trying to find a spark to ignite an offense that — aside from Justin Upton’s two home runs Friday night — has been pretty much silent this series and wasn’t doing a whole lot against the Twins earlier in the week. They have a decent history against Trevor Bauer, but his stuff makes him capable of shutting down a lineup for six innings or more. And with the workload the Indians bullpen handled Saturday, gotta figure Bauer will get every chance to find his form today and stretch out his pitch count.
A reminder for those channel-flipping between baseball and football: The game is on TBS as well as Fox Sports Detroit.
TIGERS (career numbers off Bauer)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (7-for-22, double, HR, walk, 2 K’s)
- Cameron Maybin, CF (1-for-2, K)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (5-for-18, 2 doubles, 4 walks, 2 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (6-for-21, HR, 4 walks, 4 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (7-for-19, HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
- Justin Upton, LF (1-for-3, double)
- Erick Aybar, 3B (1-for-4, walk, K)
- James McCann, C (0-for-2, K)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (2-for-4, K)
P: Daniel Norris
INDIANS (career numbers vs. Norris)
- Rajai Davis, CF (0-for-1, walk, K)
- Jason Kipnis, 2B (0-for-3)
- Francisco Lindor, SS (0-for-1)
- Mike Napoli, DH (1-for-2, double)
- Carlos Santana, 1B (2-for-3)
- Jose Ramirez, 3B (0-for-0, walk)
- Brandon Guyer, LF (1-for-6, double, walk, 2 K’s)
- Abraham Almonte, RF (0-for-1)
- Chris Gimenez, C (0-for-1)
P: Trevor Bauer
Jarrod Saltalamacchia hasn’t caught a Justin Verlander start since June 26, when the Indians put up eight runs and four homers off of him. However, with neither catcher hitting Carlos Carrasco in their careers (0-for-10 for McCann), Saltalamacchia gets the start today. Andrew Romine gets another start at third base.
The forecast will be just as interesting as the matchup. There’s a line of rain stretching from eastern Canada to Tennessee, and while Cleveland might avoid the worst of it, it’s still going to get rain. It’s more a matter of when than if, and whether they have to delay the game to avoid both teams losing their starting pitchers after an inning or two.
If and when this game gets going, it’ll be on FS1, not Fox Sports Detroit. Former Tigers pitcher C.J. Nitkowski is on the broadcast.
TIGERS (career numbers off Carrasco)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (7-for-32, 3 doubles, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
- Cameron Maybin, CF (1-for-7, double, 4 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (10-for-31, double, HR, 3 walks, 8 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (7-for-29, 2 doubles, walk, 2 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (7-for-19, 2 doubles, 2 HR, walk, 2 K’s)
- Justin Upton, LF (2-for-9, HR, 2 K’s)
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C (0-for-4, 3 K’s)
- Andrew Romine, 3B (1-for-5, double)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (4-for-13, double, walk, 3 K’s)
P: Justin Verlander
INDIANS (career numbers vs. Verlander)
- Carlos Santana, DH (13-for-61, 2 doubles, 7 HR, 7 walks, 14 K’s)
- Jason Kipnis, 2B (5-for-47, double, 8 walks, 14 K’s)
- Francisco Lindor, SS (7-for-15, double, triple, HR, walk, K)
- Mike Napoli, 1B (11-for-36, double, 3 HR, 7 walks, 10 K’s)
- Jose Ramirez, 3B (6-for-17, 3 doubles, walk, K)
- Coco Crisp, LF (11-for-43, 2 doubles, 2 HR, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
- Tyler Naquin, CF (2-for-7, HR, 3 K’s)
- Abraham Almonte, RF (2-for-5, triple, walk, 2 K’s)
- Roberto Perez, C (1-for-3, K)
P: Carlos Carrasco
Cameron Maybin returns to the lineup after a one-day break, but Jose Iglesias is out for the series opener at Cleveland. (UPDATE: Just a day off, not an injury for Iglesias, who had started each of Detroit’s last 15 games and played all but three innings of those games)
Iglesias is 1-for-9 lifetime off Indians starter Corey Kluber, but so is Andrew Romine, who gets the start at third base. Erick Aybar, by contrast, is 5-for-12 against Kluber. Miguel Cabrera is a .500 hitter with five home runs for his career off Kluber, but just 1-for-7 off him this year and 8-for-39 with no extra-base hits against Cleveland this year.
The Indians do not bring Yan Gomes back after a setback in his rehab. Even with Roberto Perez behind the plate, though, Cleveland sends a formidable lineup at Michael Fulmer, the only Tigers pitcher to beat the Indians so far this season.
TIGERS (career numbers off Kluber)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-27, triple, walk, 7 K’s)
- Cameron Maybin, CF
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (21-for-42, 2 doubles, 5 HR, 2 walks, 7 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (10-for-32, 3 HR, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (6-for-21, double, HR, 4 K’s)
- Justin Upton, LF (1-for-7, double, 4 K’s)
- Erick Aybar, SS (5-for-12, 2 K’s)
- James McCann, C (0-for-2, walk)
- Andrew Romine, 3B (1-for-9, walk, 2 K’s)
P: Michael Fulmer
INDIANS (career numbers vs. Fulmer)
- Carlos Santana, DH (2-for-5, double, walk, K)
- Jason Kipnis, 2B (1-for-6, 2 K’s)
- Francisco Lindor, SS (2-for-5, double, K)
- Mike Napoli, 1B (2-for-6, HR)
- Jose Ramirez, 3B (1-for-2, double, walk)
- Coco Crisp, LF (1-for-4, double)
- Tyler Naquin, CF (1-for-2)
- Abraham Almonte, CF
- Roberto Perez, C
P: Corey Kluber
The second-inning pitch that Brian Dozier lined into left field for a two-run single and a 4-0 Twins lead Thursday was below the knees but over the plate. It was pretty much the pitch that Mike Pelfrey and James McCann wanted in that situation if they were going to pitch to the Twins All-Star leadoff man.
“I thought it was a good pitch, if I’m going to go after him,” Pelfrey said.
The “if” part came up more after the game than the pitch.
Dozier stepped to the plate with a 2-0 Twins lead, runners at second and third with two outs, Pelfrey trying to get out of a four-hit and left-hander Blaine Hardy warming up in the Tigers bullpen. On deck was switch-hitter Jorge Polanco, who fell a triple shy of the cycle in Tuesday’s Twins win.
Polanco entered the day batting 18-for-45 (.400) against lefties, including three hits off Matt Boyd on Tuesday. Manager Brad Ausmus, asked about the situation, did not want him to face another lefty with an RBI situation.
“I was going to bring in the lefty at that point,” Ausmus said, “and Polanco’s a better right-handed hitter.”
The strategy suggested he didn’t want Pelfrey to face Polanco with the bases loaded, either. He was willing to take his chances with Dozier to avoid that, at least in the early stages of the game.
“Bases loaded, you also leave yourself nowhere to maneuver,” Ausmus said. “A walk is a run. Anything’s a run. Early in the game, you expect to score some runs. We scored one run. …
“Generally, you don’t want the main guy to beat you. That early in the game, I’m not overly concerned about it.”
That said, McCann indicated Polanco’s presence wasn’t a primary concern.
“Honestly, I know Polanco’s had some hits against us, but Dozier’s so hot right now,” McCann said. “He wasn’t the guy that we wanted to beat us. We wanted to make Polanco continue to swing the bat. You look at Dozier’s year, especially what he’s done since the All-Star break, that’s the guy you can’t let beat you.”
Pelfrey put Dozier in an 0-2 hole on sinkers in the first inning before getting him to ground out. Once Dozier shrugged at two sliders off the plate, the situation was reversed, and Pelfrey had a decision to make with a 2-0 count.
“Yeah, probably not the smartest thing that I fell behind on two sliders,” Pelfrey said. “I threw a split that he swung through, came back with a heater, he swung through that, and we got back to 2-2.”
The 2-0 splitter was around the same location was the 2-2 splitter. The 2-1 fastball was over the plate, a challenge pitch. The Twins had an approach of making Pelfrey throw the fastball, but Dozier swung through it.
Pelfrey had a pitch to play with at 2-2. He went back to the splitter down, but not down enough to get out of Dozier’s reach. Pelfrey, who has been prone to self-criticism, second-guessed himself.
“Maybe I should’ve been more careful and walked him,” he said. “I didn’t think that split was necessarily a bad pitch, but he’s maybe the hottest hitter on the planet, and he obviously made me pay for it. That’s obviously — 4-0 compared to 2-0 is obviously a big deficit. Maybe I should’ve been a little smarter. …
“Maybe I should’ve been smarter. Again, he’s the hottest hitter on the planet. Maybe I should’ve walked him with first base open and tried to go after Polanco. But you get in the game, you get caught up in going after guys. Maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing in hindsight.”
McCann wasn’t so tough on the intent, focusing more on the pitch.
“He hit it off the end of the bat and blooped it in,” he said. “Yeah, maybe we try to get him to fish and it’s a different ballgame, different at-bat. But it wasn’t like we grooved him a heater and said, ‘Here you go, hit it.’ We were trying to work the count to make him hit our pitch.”
The difference, Ausmus, was the result.
“If he grounds out to third, you don’t even ask the question,” Ausmus said. “It’s all results-oriented. He got a hit. It was actually not well-hit, kind of a soft liner, simple as that.”
Those words in the headline were the parting words from Miguel Cabrera after his postgame interview, following a 9-6 win over the Twins in which he provided the go-ahead home run in the seventh inning. The victory moved the Tigers within a game of the Blue Jays for an AL Wild Card spot, keeping fuel in the Tigers’ playoff chase.
“You play for this. You’ve a chance to make the playoffs. Hopefully we can finish strong and have a chance to play in the playoffs
“This is fun. This is fun. It doesn’t matter what people say, like ‘We’re not going to make it, we’re not going to do this.’ We hear a lot of bad things, but we’ve always got to stay positive. Let other people say the negative things, but we have to stay positive. It doesn’t matter if we lose or win. We have a chance, and we have to believe.”
It’s that latter part of the quote that was interesting, and unprompted. Several players have talked over the last few years about a feeling of negativity, including getting booed at home. Cabrera wasn’t referencing fan reaction at Comerica Park, but moreso on social media.
“I’ve been playing here a lot of years so I know how it works,” he said. “To me, it doesn’t matter what people say, but I’ve got a lot of new guys here. I don’t worry about that stuff, but they think about it and read that stuff. We need to stay positive and go out there and play.”
When he talked about reading, he at least referenced Twitter.
“Before the game, you can’t check Twitter,” he said.
The quotes were part of a bigger picture Cabrera discussed, about staying focused in the heat of a playoff race. He follows what’s going on with other teams, but he isn’t overly concerned about it, he said, preferring to focus on their own games.
“I always believe if you win games, you don’t have to worry about other teams,” he said. “You have to worry about what you can do. You can’t lose your focus.”
That includes the scoreboard. It especially includes social media.
Justin Upton returns to the Tigers lineup after he was held out of Tuesday’s game with a strained left calf.
“He said he’s good to go,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “That’s good enough for me.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Romine returns to third base for his second start in three games.
The Twins lineup is missing Joe Mauer, who continues to deal with sore quads. Miguel Sano is also out of the lineup. Neither has done a whole lot against Anibal Sanchez over their careers, according to the number. Kurt Suzuki is one guy who has, and he’s batting fifth. Jorge Polanco hasn’t had many at-bats, but he’s red-hot at the plate coming off Tuesday’s three-hit, four-RBI performance.
TIGERS (career numbers off Duffey)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-9)
- Cameron Maybin, CF (1-for-2, K)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (5-for-10, 2 doubles, HR, walk)
- Victor Martinez, DH (5-for-10, 2 doubles, walk, 2 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (4-for-10, double, walk, K)
- Justin Upton, LF (3-for-5, 2 HR, K)
- James McCann, C (2-for-6, triple, K)
- Andrew Romine, 3B (1-for-4, double, K)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (0-for-2)
P: Anibal Sanchez
TWINS (career numbers vs. Sanchez)
- Brian Dozier, 2B (4-for-26, HR, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
- Jorge Polanco, SS (1-for-3, triple)
- Max Kepler, RF (1-for-5, walk, 2 K’s)
- Kennys Vargas, 1B (0-for-7, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
- Kurt Suzuki, C (5-for-11, walk)
- Eduardo Escobar, 3B (2-for-12, double, walk, 2 K’s)
- Robbie Grossman, DH (3-for-6, 2 K’s)
- Logan Schafer, LF
- Byron Buxton, CF (1-for-2, K)
P: Tyler Duffey
Justin Upton was optimistic last night about being able to return to the starting lineup despite a strained left calf that forced him out of Monday’s game, but manager Brad Ausmus opted not to take chances. Tyler Collins gets the start in left.
“I’m just giving him a day,” Ausmus said. “He said he felt pretty good, but I’m just going to have him do nothing today. He probably could play, but I just want to make sure he’s alright before I put him back in.”
Joe Mauer, as expected, remains out with quad issues.
TIGERS (career numbers vs. Kyle Gibson)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (9-for-24, double, HR, 3 walks, 2 K’s)
- Cameron Maybin, CF (0-for-0, 2 walks)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (6-for-18, double, HR, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (6-for-23, double, 3 walks)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (9-for-22, double, 2 HR, 2 walks, 7 K’s)
- Tyler Collins, LF
- Erick Aybar, 3B (5-for-13)
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
- Jose Iglesias, SS (0-for-5)
P: Matt Boyd
TWINS (numbers off Boyd)
- Brian Dozier, 2B (2-for-8, HR, walk, 4 K’s)
- Jorge Polanco, SS (1-for-3, K)
- Robbie Grossman, LF (1-for-2, HR, 2 walks)
- Kennys Vargas, 1B
- Kurt Suzuki, DH (1-for-5, walk)
- Eduardo Escobar, 3B (0-for-3)
- John Ryan Murphy, C
JordanLogan Schafer, RF
- Byron Buxton, CF (0-for-2)
P: Kyle Gibson