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Thursday’s lineups: David Price (and Tigers) vs. Rays

Day out of the field for Miguel Cabrera. He’s the designated hitter, with Victor Martinez getting a chance for redemption at first base after a rough afternoon there on Sunday. Other than that, the only change is Eugenio Suarez’s first start at shortstop since last Saturday.

The Rays, meanwhile, take some left-handed hitters out of the lineup for their meeting with former ace David Price. Brandon Guyer replaces Matt Joyce in the third spot, while Sean Rodriguez starts at first base in place of James Loney.

Reminder: Today’s game is on MLB Network, so if you’re not in area to watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit, you can watch it there.

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

TIGERS (career numbers off Alex Cobb)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (4-for-12, 2 doubles, walk, 4 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (6-for-15, double, walk)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH (2-for-8, double, 5 walks)
  4. Victor Martinez, 1B (2-for-8, K)
  5. J.D. Martinez, LF (2-for-2, double, walk)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Alex Avila, C (4-for-9, double, walk, 2 K’s)
  8. Eugenio Suarez, SS (0-for-2, 2 K’s)
  9. Rajai Davis, CF (0-for-2)

P: David Price

RAYS

  1. Desmond Jennings, CF
  2. Ben Zobrist, RF
  3. Brandon Guyer, LF
  4. Evan Longoria, 3B
  5. Wil Myers, DH
  6. Sean Rodriguez, 1B
  7. Yunel Escobar, SS (6-for-23, HR, 2 walks, 7 K’s vs. Price)
  8. Curt Casali, C
  9. Logan Forsythe, 2B

P: Alex Cobb

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers at Rays

Same lineup for the Tigers, including Andrew Romine at shortstop. He’s batting 8-for-30 since Aug. 5 with two doubles and a solo home run. It equals his hit total from June 17 to Aug. 4.

The Rays get Wil Myers back and plug him in at the DH spot. He hasn’t played since the end of May after suffering a stress fracture in his right wrist.

TIGERS

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Torii Hunter, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, LF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Andrew Romine, SS
  9. Rajai Davis, CF

P: Rick Porcello

RAYS (career numbers off Porcello)

  1. Desmond Jennings, CF (5-for-14, double, HR, 4 K’s)
  2. Ben Zobrist, 2B (3-for-11)
  3. Matt Joyce, LF (2-for-10, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  4. Evan Longoria, 3B (2-for-11, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  5. James Loney, 1B (4-for-10, double, walk)
  6. Wil Myers, DH
  7. Yunel Escobar, SS (1-for-5, walk, K)
  8. Curt Casali, C
  9. Kevin Kiermaier, RF (0-for-3)_

P: Jake Odorizzi

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers at Rays

Brad Ausmus shuffles up his lineup a bit, moving Torii Hunter back up to second in the order, leading off with Ian Kinsler and moving Rajai Davis back to the ninth spot. Essentially it’s a return to an early-season batting order to try to ignite a few different hitters — including Hunter (who’s just 11-for-53 in August with more strikeouts than he had in June or July) and Kinsler, who batted just 2-for-17 last week as part of a second-half slump that’s well known.

That said, it might not be enough against Chris Archer, who fell two outs shy of a complete-game win at Comerica Park July 5.

While the Tigers miss out on facing Drew Smyly, they’ll get their first look at Curt Casali, the catcher they gave up a year and a half ago to gain full rights to Kyle Lobstein. He’s not hitting much, but he came up with the reputation as a defense-first catcher.

TIGERS (career numbers off Archer)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-10, double, 4 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (2-for-4, K)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1-for-5, 2 walks)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-3, K)
  5. J.D. Martinez, LF (2-for-7, HR)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (0-for-4, K)
  7. Alex Avila, C (1-for-2, HR, 2 walks)
  8. Andrew Romine, SS (2-for-4, walk, K)
  9. Rajai Davis, CF (0-for-3, K)

P: Max Scherzer

RAYS (career numbers vs. Scherzer)

  1. Desmond Jennings, CF (2-for-15, double, 6 K’s)
  2. Ben Zobrist, 2B (2-for-18, HR, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  3. Matt Joyce, LF (2-for-17, double, HR, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
  4. Evan Longoria, 3B (2-for-14, HR, walk, 5 K’s)
  5. James Loney, 1B (6-for-23, double, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  6. Yunel Escobar, SS (11-for-30, 3 doubles, HR, 3 walks, 7 K’s)
  7. Vince Belnome, DH (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  8. Curt Casali, C
  9. Kevin Kiermaier, RF (0-for-3, K)

P: Chris Archer

Cabrera: We play hard, but we have to play better

One prominent presence on this team that has been a relatively quiet voice belongs to Miguel Cabrera, who has largely kept out of interviews since the All-Star break while he and his team have tried to get going. With the struggles continuing Sunday with a loss to Seattle, Cabrera spoke with a small group of reporters.

His message was largely a push to action. Like several others on the team, he pointed out that the effort is there. It’s not a matter of playing hard, he said. It’s a matter of playing well, and they’re going to have several chances to play well against teams that will make a difference.

“Some days we play good defense and then we don’t hit. Some days we hit good and don’t play good defense,” he said. “If we want to win, we have to stick together, play defense, hit and pitch at the same time. I think we still have a good shot because we still have a lot of games against Kansas City and Cleveland, against our division. When we play against our division, we play good.

“What we can do is go out there and play hard. People see we play hard. We play hard, but I think we have to do better. That’s what I want to say. I say we have to play better.”

Once the Tigers play three games this coming week at Tampa Bay, they’ll have just six games left outside of their division, all at home. They’ll host the Yankees for a quick three-game homestand Aug. 26-28, then welcome the Giants for three games Sept. 5-7. They’ll have six games against the Royals in September, and seven against Cleveland.

“If we want to win the division, if we’re going to be in the playoffs, we have to play better,” he said. “We have to win series. We have to step up and do our jobs. Do our jobs and I think we’re going to be OK.”

Asked if they’re feeling the pressure of a division race, he agreed.

“That’s why you see when we have men in scoring position, we swing at a bad pitch, because we want to make something happen,” he said. “When you say it’s a lot of pressure, yes, it’s a lot of pressure because two or three weeks [ago] we lead the division by six, seven games. Right now we’re behind. But you know what, we’re a good team. We’re going to come from behind and we’re going to get the lead again. But what we have to control is go out there and play better, play hard, make something happen.”

That includes himself. And not surprisingly, he didn’t want to get into his health. His non-answer, however, didn’t deny that he’s dealing with issues.

“You guys know me for seven years. I don’t like to talk about my injuries or whatever I’ve got in my body right now,” he said. “The only thing I can say is I’m going to be out there every day and try to play hard. It doesn’t matter what I have. I try to play my best. Hopefully I can do my job and hopefully I can help my team to win more games and hopefully we can win the division.”

When asked about his swing, he said he feels better about it, and he’ll feel better if he can hit for more home runs. But he also acknowledged that in trying to swing big, he has gotten out of his strike zone, something he’s trying to reverse.

“I try to expand my zone. I try to make something happen. That’s a big mistake you can do as a hitter,” he said. “So right now, I have to feel more comfortable with what I’m doing at home plate and try to shorten my strike zone and try to swing at strikes.”

When asked about the fan reception lately, he admitted it can be a tough when people expect them to run away with the division and they haven’t. But he also stated the obvious: If you win, everything’s good.

“Detroit is a sports city. They come every day to support us and when we don’t do our job, they express it, they boo us,” he said. “I’ve been playing in Detroit for seven years and seen this or that, but we’ve got to control that. We have to get out there and play better and win games. If we win games, they’re going to be OK. …

“They don’t like the way we play right now. I understand that because we don’t play good right now. Like I said before, we have to do our jobs. We have to go out there and play better, play good defense, hit and pitch. We have great starters, great pitchers and offense. We have to get together. … We need everybody here on our team to do everything we can do best to do our job. I think if we control that, the fans are going to be happy.”

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Mariners

Miguel Cabrera is OK after being hit near his elbow by a pitch Saturday night, but he’s getting a day at DH to at least ease some of the workload. Andrew Romine starts at short, with Eugenio Suarez getting a day off. Torii Hunter is also off as J.D. Martinez shifts over to right field, with Ezequiel Carrera and Rajai Davis in center and left for the first time since their mixup in Pittsburgh.

TIGERS (career numbers off Chris Young)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (0-for-5, K)
  2. Ezequiel Carrera, CF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH (2-for-12, HR, 4 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, 1B (0-for-6, 2 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Alex Avila, C (0-for-2, K)
  8. Andrew Romine, SS (1-for-2, double)
  9. Rajai Davis, LF (0-for-0, 3 walks)

P: Robbie Ray

MARINERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Dustin Ackley, LF
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Kendrys Morales, DH
  5. Kyle Seager, 3B
  6. Chris Denorfia, RF
  7. Logan Morrison, 1B
  8. Chris Taylor, SS
  9. Jesus Sucre, C

P: Chris Young

Nathan endures boos, baserunners in return, but gets save

Joe Nathan was going to have to get back on the mound and face the boos at Comerica Park eventually. David Price’s home debut as a Tiger, with a three-run lead, seemed like as good a time as any.

“At some point, he’s going to have to pitch again in this ballpark,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “In my mind, really, it’s better to do it sooner than later.”

Said Nathan: “I knew my nerves would be a little extra. When I was apologizing, I’ve never been a part of any type of controversy, and I will not be a part of it again.”

The boos began, albeit just a few, before Nathan had made it from the bullpen to the mound. They multiplied before he began warming, then really picked up upon introduction. A leadoff single amplified them. Each time, the boos would start and eventually stop for the next at-bat, though they would resume at some point.

The runner eventually scored, but Nathan held it there, getting a game-ending double play to finish off a 4-2 win. And as the boos turned to cheers for a big win finished, Nathan kept his celebration to a point at his catcher, Alex Avila, and congratulations from his teammates. There was no chin-flick, no look into the stands.

“I held it in,” Nathan said. “I definitely didn’t want to have any reaction tonight, kind of just get back to trying to finish games, try to keep my emotions in check. But I knew it was important, my first time back on the mound since the incident. Just wanted to give the fans something to cheer about before they try to battle traffic with One Direction going on [next door at Ford Field].”

 

 

 

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Mariners

Though Rajai Davis has respectable numbers off Felix Hernandez at 4-for-14, Brad Ausmus is going to give Ezequiel Carrera an opportunity. He’ll bat second, with Ian Kinsler moving up to leadoff for the night.

“I don’t want to put too much of a magnifying glass on Carrera hitting leadoff right now,” said Ausmus.

Most of the Tigers numbers off Hernandez aren’t as bad as you’d think, though the power numbers are very limited.

TIGERS (career numbers off Felix Hernandez)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (19-for-77, 3 doubles, 4 HR, 11 walks, 11 K’s)
  2. Ezequiel Carrera, CF (1-for-5, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH (10-for-24, 2 doubles, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, 1B (6-for-21, HR, 4 walks, K)
  5. Torii Hunter, RF (23-for-72, 3 doubles, 4 walks, 20 K’s)
  6. J.D. Martinez, LF
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  8. Alex Avila, C (3-for-11, 4 K’s)
  9. Eugenio Suarez, SS

P: Max Scherzer David Price

MARINERS (career numbers against Price)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (3-for-17, double, 10 K’s)
  2. Dustin Ackley, LF (2-for-5, double, walk, 3 K’s)
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B (18-for-64, 3 doubles, triple, HR, 3 walks, 7 K’s)
  4. Kendrys Morales, DH (3-for-12, 3 K’s)
  5. Chris Denorfia, RF
  6. Kyle Seager, 3B (0-for-8, 2 K’s)
  7. Mike Zunino, C (1-for-7, double, 6 K’s)
  8. Logan Morrison, 1B (1-for-3, double, K)
  9. Chris Taylor, SS

P: Felix Hernandez

Traffic/parking note for tonight’s Tigers game

Between a sellout crowd at Comerica Park for tonight’s game, a huge crowd across the street at Ford Field for tonight’s One Direction concert, and the road closures on Woodward, expect traffic chaos downtown tonight — and that doesn’t include Woodward Dream Cruise traffic if you’re in the northern suburbs.

The Comerica Park operations people sent out an advisory via their twitter account today. The Olympia-owned parking lots and garages on the east side of Woodward are being reserved for people going to the Tigers game. To get in, you’ll need either a parking pass or proof of your ticket to the game. On the west side of Woodward, the lots and garages are open to everybody on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are plenty of other parking lots available downtown, but keep in mind that the Grand Circus stop on the People Mover is closed for renovation. That makes Broadway the closest stop to the ballpark.

The most basic advice is to give yourself as much time as possible, and bring your patience. Also, have your maps app handy on your phone. Depending on how many streets are closed, it might come in handy.

Friday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Mariners

Rick Porcello spent 4 1/2 seasons on the same team with Austin Jackson. He said yesterday he has not talked with him since the trade, but he hopes to do so this weekend. Before that, however, they have a game to play.

“It’s obviously going to be a little strange to see him on the other side,” Porcello said, “but honestly, at this point right now, the way things have been going, I really don’t care. I’m trying to get his ass off just the same as everybody else.”

Jackson has been relatively quiet lately atop the Seattle lineup, but he has scored each of the last three times he has reached base.

TIGERS

  1. Rajai Davis, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1-for-2, walk vs. Paxton)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-1, double, 2 walks vs. Paxton)
  5. Torii Hunter, RF (1-for-3, HR, K vs. Paxton)
  6. J.D. Martinez, LF
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  8. Bryan Holaday, C
  9. Eugenio Suarez, SS

P: Rick Porcello

MARINERS (career numbers vs. Porcello)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Dustin Ackley, LF (2-for-6, K)
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B (7-for-20, 2 doubles, 3 walks)
  4. Kendrys Morales, DH (4-for-19, double, walk, 6 K’s)
  5. Kyle Seager, 3B (0-for-2, walk)
  6. Mike Zunino, C (0-for-3, 3 K’s)
  7. Logan Morrison, 1B (1-for-1)
  8. Endy Chavez, RF (1-for-3, 2 K’s)
  9. Chris Taylor, SS

P: James Paxton

Scherzer: Better than last year?

The question has come up a couple different times to Max Scherzer, whose Cy Young season last year was downright dominant. After eight shutout innings and a season-high 14 stirkeouts, the question came up again.

After going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts last year, is Scherzer actually better this year?

“Coming off these last two starts and where I’m at, I’m a better pitcher than I was last year,” Scherzer said. “That was my mindset coming into this year: I was going to be a better pitcher than I was last year. Take all the numbers, throw them out. I’m not referencing wins and losses or anything. If you look at how I’m pitching, and what I’m able to execute, I’m executing all my pitches at a higher level right now. That’s something I strive for, and really it’s taken to the second half to kind of get everything in sync to be at that level. But I feel like I’m at a level where I’m better than I was last year. That’s my goal, to keep getting better.”

Statistically, he’s pretty close. His Fielding Independent Pitching is very close — 2.87 this year compared to 2.74 last season.

If you’re looking at the repertoire, though, he has an argument that he has improved. The transition he made away from being a fastball-slider pitcher and towards a four-pitch pitcher has continued this year, and with more progress.

His fastball, which comprised 60 percent of his pitches two years ago, was down to 53.6% entering this season, according to Fangraphs and STATS, down from 56% last year. His slider usage has dropped from 15.2% to 13.8%.

His curveball and changeup usage, in turn, have rise. The curveball, a pitch he didn’t use in games until around this point two years ago, now comprises 11 percent of his pitches.

That mix was on display Thursday, though maybe with a couple fewer curveballs than the season rates. According to data from MLB.com’s Gameday app and brooksbaseball.net, Scherzer threw 60 fastballs among his 115 pitches. Fifty-four were his traditional power four-seamers, drawing nine swings and misses out of 23 total swings. The data, however, suggested six other fastballs were the two-seamer Scherzer has been honing this season and keeping in his pocket for situations.

Scherzer threw more changeups (24) than sliders (22), threw nearly all of each for strikes, and drew a dozen swings and misses between the two. The nine curveballs he threw were effectively, including two whiffs.

“His fastball’s generally always good,” manager Brad Ausmus said after the game. “His changeup was very good. But his curveball, he threw a couple curveballs today harder than normal down and in on left-handed hitters, and he got a strikeout one. Usually his curveball’s more of an offspeed pitch on the outer half of the plate, and he’s been working on it a little bit throwing it harder on the inside part of the plate to lefties.”

Scherzer said he’s not throwing one or the other curveball differently; he’s just throwing them with a different amount of pressure.

For the season, data from STATS suggests those secondary pitches are better now. He’s throwing his slider, curveball and changeup for a higher percentage of strikes, getting a higher percentage of swings and misses from the changeup and curveball, and getting hitters to chase the changeup out of the zone nearly 40 percent of the time.

His fastball and slider are both getting hit harder (a .447 BABIP off the slider, compared to .212 last year). His curveball is getting hit at a slightly higher rate. The changeup is a better pitch all around.

“The fastball maintains a finish through the zone,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “The two-seamer, four-seamer, breaking ball plays extremely well against the right-handers. The changeup for the left-handers. He’s a horse out there. The volume of pitches he can throw and maintain velocity and command is impressive.”

When the Pirates put pitches in play Thursday, they tended to hit them well. Two of the three hits off of him were doubles, the other a line-drive single. All three were off the four-seam fastball.

They didn’t make contact often enough Thursday, though, and as long as he isn’t giving up many walks, it’s hard to make them count. He has now gone five starts without allowing a home run, one shy of his best mark from last year around the same time. If he can keep the ball away from catwalks at Tropicana Field next week, he’ll get it.

But there’s plenty more to like about the way Scherzer is throwing right now — and the way he’s feeling about the team around him.

“I feel great,” he said. “Arm’s healthy, especially now. We’re going to get a couple of off-days, which will kind of give me a chance to freshen up. We’ve got playoff baseball. These games are huge for the rest of the season. We’re in a fight right now, but that doesn’t change what I believe, that if we come to play we’re going to win this.

“I completely respect the other teams in our division — the Royals, Indians. It’s just that I believe in everybody in this clubhouse. I believe we have the talent to get it done. We just need to go out there and do it. We just need to play our game, bring our best every single day, bring our ‘A’ game, and let’s go win the American League Central.”

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