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Tigers head into off-day with momentum at Twins’ expense

The Tigers get to settle in Thursday for their first off-day in the middle of a homestand this year. It’s just their second off-day at home this season, and their first day off of any kind in 2 ½ weeks. It will be coming off a four-game winning streak.

If they had been off Monday, coming off a 2-5 road trip and 11 losses in their previous 13 games, they would’ve been hearing about it for close to 48 hours before they could take the field. The frustration would’ve had that much more time to percolate, the attention that much more time to hone in on Ausmus, fair or not.

As they filed out of the clubhouse for some badly needed rest, it was a much different feeling around the club than when they came in a couple days earlier.

“It’s nice to get a win,” Ian Kinsler said, “but we just have to remember where we’re at as a team and make sure we don’t lose the energy that we have. You don’t want it to affect the energy and what we have going, going into Friday. You want to make sure that everyone remembers what we’re doing, how you felt when you’re in here, and bring that on Friday.”

This was the stretch the Tigers needed to reach to catch a breath after a stretch against teams that wore them down, from Max Scherzer’s 20-strikeout game a week ago to a pesky Texas lineup to scoreless performances from Corey Kluber in Cleveland to Chris Tillman in Baltimore.

As much as the Tigers respect the Twins for the leap they made last season, they also match up well against them, having swept them in Minnesota at the end of April. They did it again the last few days, outscoring Minnesota by a 23-15 margin. The lack of timely hitting that dogged them in Baltimore, Washington and Cleveland wasn’t a factor, nor were the pitching issues that seemed to pop up in a different inning each time out.

“It was always one part of our game that was hurting us, or beating us, whether it was the bullpen one day, or starting pitching one day, or the offense one day,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Now we’re getting those things to work together. We’re getting the runs. Our starters are going deep into games, and the bullpen is keeping the lead.”

Another three-game series against a team without a winning record awaits with the Rays coming to town. They’ll get a test against the surprisingly resurgent Phillies next week, then hit the road for a six-game West Coast trip to the sub-.500 Athletics and Angels.

Add in a makeup game against the last-place Yankees, and the Tigers won’t face another first-place team until the White Sox come to town the first weekend in June. They have two weeks to then to build up their record and their confidence.

“I haven’t really seen that we’ve really been down,” bench coach Gene Lamont said Tuesday, “but you keep thinking this thing’s gotta turn around. If it doesn’t, you just keep waiting and waiting. Hopefully it has.”

They sound like a team not lacking in confidence that they can turn it around, even though they remain two games under .500 for now.

“The easiest thing to forget is this is a 162-game season,” Justin Verlander said. “Even the best of teams go through stretches.”

Thursday is their chance to stretch out and relax. Come Friday, they’ll try to stretch out their winning streak.

Wednesday’s lineups (updated): Tigers vs. Twins


Today might have been the day to rest Justin Upton in favor of Steven Moya, Brad Ausmus admitted, if not for Upton’s game Tuesday night — not just the ground-rule double to the depths of Comerica Park, but the earlier drive to center that Danny Santana ran down in the gap. So aside from the catching spot, the Tigers have the same lineup as the first two games of the series.

UPDATE: Moya ends up in the starting lineup anyway. Ausmus made a late decision to get Victor Martinez an extra day of rest. Moya enters lineup at DH, batting sixth. Nick Castellanos and Justin Upton move up in batting order.

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

84tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers off Ricky Nolasco)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (7-for-20, 3 doubles, 2 K’s)
  2. J.D. Martinez, RF (5-for-18, walk, 3 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (4-for-14, double, 3 walks, 7 K’s)
  4. Nick Castellanos, 3B (3-for-11, double, 2 HR, 2 K’s)
  5. Justin Upton, LF (5-for-17, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  6. Steven Moya, DH
  7. Cameron Maybin, CF (4-for-5)
  8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C (1-for-9, 3 K’s)
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (4-for-5, double, walk)

P: Justin Verlander

twinsoldtimelogoTWINS (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. Joe Mauer, DH (24-for-68, 5 doubles, 3 HR, 12 walks, 11 K’s)
  2. Eduardo Nunez, SS (4-for-11, double, HR, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Sano, RF (1-for-2, walk, K)
  4. Byung Ho Park, 1B
  5. Trevor Plouffe, 3B (7-for-34, 3 doubles, 9 K’s)
  6. Brian Dozier, 2B (4-for-17, double, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
  7. Eddie Rosario, LF (1-for-3)
  8. Kurt Suzuki, C (11-for-36, 2 doubles, walk, 4 K’s)
  9. Danny Santana, CF (3-for-9, triple)

P: Ricky Nolasco

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Twins

Phil Hughes is giving up a .354 (17-for-48) average to left-handed batters this season, compared to .270 (27-for-100) against righties. But six of his seven homers have come off right-handed bats, and his career averages point toward more damage from right-handed hitters. That was part of the reason for Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez getting the start against him. Steven Moya sits for a second consecutive night. Other than James McCann catching, the batting order stays the same from last night.

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

tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers off Hughes)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (8-for-36, 3 doubles, triple, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  2. J.D. Martinez, RF (3-for-12, double, HR, walk, 5 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (18-for-44, 5 doubles, 6 HR, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (12-for-40, 2 doubles, HR, 5 K’s)
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B (5-for-14, 2 doubles, walk, 5 K’s)
  6. Justin Upton, LF (2-for-3)
  7. Cameron Maybin, CF (2-for-5, K)
  8. James McCann, C (4-for-5, 2 doubles)
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (2-for-8, K)

P: Mike Pelfrey

twinslogoTWINS (career numbers vs. Pelfrey)

  1. Joe Mauer, 1B (3-for-6, double, K)
  2. Jorge Polanco, SS
  3. Miguel Sano, RF (2-for-2, double, walk)
  4. Byung Ho Park, DH (1-for-2, walk, K)
  5. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
  6. Brian Dozier, 2B (0-for-2, walk)
  7. Eddie Rosario, LF (0-for-2)
  8. Juan Centeno, C
  9. Danny Santana, CF (1-for-3, K)

P: Phil Hughes

 

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers at Orioles

One more go-around for Justin Upton in center field and Anthony Gose in left. Mike Aviles gets the start at shortstop, giving Jose Iglesias a day off.

TIGERS (career numbers vs. Kevin Gausman)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (3-for-9, double, 2 K’s)
  2. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-3, walk, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (2-for-7, K)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-9, double, 2 K’s)
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-4, HR, K)
  6. Justin Upton, CF
  7. Steven Moya, LF
  8. James McCann, C (1-for-3)
  9. Mike Aviles, SS (1-for-2, double)

P: Michael Fulmer

ORIOLES

  1. Joey Rickard, RF
  2. Manny Machado, SS
  3. Adam Jones, CF
  4. Chris Davis, 1B
  5. Mark Trumbo, DH
  6. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
  7. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
  8. Nolan Reimold, LF
  9. Caleb Joseph, C

P: Kevin Gausman

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at Orioles

The Tigers repeat the outfield setup of Justin Upton in center and Steven Moya in left against Orioles starter Chris Tillman, who has held right-handed hitters to an 11-for-61 (.180) clip compared to 19-for-76 (.250) against left-handed batters. The only change on Detroit’s side is behind the plate, where James McCann will catch Justin Verlander.

The Orioles put Matt Wieters back in at catcher despite his historic struggles against Justin Verlander.

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

84tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers against Tillman)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-21, double, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  2. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-8, HR, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (5-for-15, double, HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (5-for-14, double, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-8, K)
  6. Justin Upton, CF
  7. Steven Moya, LF
  8. James McCann, C (0-for-3, K)
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (2-for-12, double, 2 K’s)

P: Justin Verlander

oslogoORIOLES (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. Joey Rickard, LF
  2. Manny Machado, SS (3-for-14, double, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  3. Adam Jones, CF (9-for-38, double, 2 HR, walk, 10 K’s)
  4. Chris Davis, 1B (6-for-25, 3 walks, 11 K’s)
  5. Mark Trumbo, RF (2-for-9, 3 K’s)
  6. Matt Wieters, C (3-for-24, double, triple, HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  7. Pedro Alvarez, DH (2-for-12, double, 6 K’s)
  8. Jonathan Schoop, 2B (2-for-9, HR, double, 2 K’s)
  9. Ryan Flaherty, 3B (2-for-10, walk, K)

P: Chris Tillman

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers at Orioles

When news of Steven Moya’s call-up emerged this morning, the assumption was that it set up a day off for Justin Upton. The fact that Ubaldo Jimenez has been struggling against left-handed hitters this season (22-for-62, well above his .239 career average), and the prospect of putting Moya’s bat to the plate at homer-friendly Camden Yards made him too good to sit, and manager Brad Ausmus said Wednesday that he had discussed with coaches the idea of sitting Upton for a night.

Instead, the Tigers are trying something different. Moya is indeed in left field, but Upton is in center, his first start there since he was a prospect at Double-A Mobile in 2007. The small dimensions of Camden Yards give him less ground to cover, but it’ll be interesting nonetheless.

Also worth noting: With the Tigers lineup back at full strength, Nick Castellanos is batting fifth tonight rather than sixth, perhaps a side benefit of his success batting cleanup in Washington. Upton moves down to sixth.

The Orioles lineup, meanwhile, is scorching, no matter what the order. The O’s have back-to-back homers in each of their last three games. If they can do it against Pelfrey (or the bullpen), they’d tie the 1964 Twins for the record with four straight. Mark Trumbo is 6-for-15 with three homers in his last three games, and 5-for-10 against Pelfrey. Manny Machado is 20-for-48 with 11 extra-base hits in his last 12 games. Adam Jones has broken out of his early-season slump with an 8-for-19 stretch over his last four games.

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

tigerhitterlogoTIGERS (career numbers off Jimenez)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (6-for-22, 3 doubles, 4 walks, 4 K’s)
  2. J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-9, 2 HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (15-for-43, 4 doubles, HR, 9 walks, 8 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (9-for-29, double, 4 HR, walk, 5 K’s)
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B (0-for-6, K)
  6. Justin Upton, CF (7-for-25, 2 doubles, triple, 2 HR, 3 walks, 7 K’s)
  7.  Steven Moya, LF
  8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C (1-for-6, 3 K’s)
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (3-for-4, triple, HR)

P: Mike Pelfrey

oriolesoldlogoORIOLES (career numbers vs. Pelfrey)

  1. Joey Rickard, LF
  2. Manny Machado, SS (2-for-6)
  3. Adam Jones, CF (6-for-12)
  4. Chris Davis, 1B (2-for-6, 2 doubles, 3 K’s)
  5. Mark Trumbo, RF (5-for-10, HR, walk, 2 K’s)
  6. Pedro Alvarez, DH (1-for-10, double, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  7. Jonathan Schoop, 2B (2-for-3)
  8. Ryan Flaherty, 3B (1-for-2)
  9. Caleb Joseph, C (0-for-2)

P: Ubaldo Jimenez

Tigers calling up Moya from Toledo

The Tigers, victims of Max Scherzer’s 20-strikeout performance Wednesday night, are about to get offensive reinforcements from the minors. Slugging outfield prospect Steven Moya is joining the team from Triple-A Toledo.

The Mud Hens announced the move on their twitter account prior to their game Thursday morning, with lefty reliever Blaine Hardy optioned to Toledo to make room. The Tigers have not made an announcement on their end. John Wagner of the Toledo Blade first reported the move.

The move restores the Tigers’ outfield and positional depth to normal after Detroit carried an extra reliever Wednesday night. But the 24-year-old Moya, Detroit’s 10th-ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com, isn’t likely heading up to sit the bench.

The 6-foot-7 Moya, the Tigers’ best power-hitting prospect the last few years, has torn up Triple-A pitching this season, batting .310 (39-for-126) through Wednesday with 11 doubles, nine home runs, 24 RBIs and a .968 OPS. It’s a carryover from what he showed in Spring Training, when he hit for power to all fields and cut down on what had been a crippling strikeout rate.

Moya had been Toledo’s everyday right fielder until the last couple days, when Mud Hens manager Lloyd McClendon moved him to left to try to improve his versatility. That was around the same time that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said they were considering giving struggling left fielder Justin Upton a day off.

Moya’s promotion gives the Tigers a chance to sit Upton for a game or two to clear his head if they want. Though Upton ended an 0-for-19 slump with a double off the center-field wall against Scherzer in Washington Wednesday night, he’s batting .221 (29-for-131) while leading the Majors with 53 strikeouts in 33 games.

The Tigers open a four-game series in Baltimore Thursday night. Ubaldo Jimenez, the Orioles’ scheduled starter for the series opener, is giving up a .355 average (22-for-62) to left-handed hitters this season.

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers at Nationals


Though Nick Castellanos’ last couple games (along with Miguel Cabrera’s near-mishap with his knee Monday, and wet conditions today) raised speculation that he might not get his originally scheduled day out of the lineup, Brad Ausmus sticks with the plan. While Cabrera makes his first start at third base since Aug. 12, 2014, Victor Martinez starts at first base for the third time in four days.

The Nationals juggle their lineup and move up Daniel Murphy behind Bryce Harper, giving them back-to-back dangerous left-handed hitters against a Tigers team that now has four left-handed relievers with Daniel Norris called up. Murphy’s familiarity facing Zimmermann (62 plate appearances), as opposed to being a teammate, might have played a role.

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

1945tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers vs. Max Scherzer)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-25, double, triple, walk, 4 K’s)
  2. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-3, HR)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (1-for-1, walk)
  4. Victor Martinez, 1B (1-for-6)
  5. Justin Upton, LF (0-for-5, walk, 3 K’s)
  6. James McCann, C
  7. Anthony Gose, CF (0-for-5, 5 K’s)
  8. Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-2)
  9. Jordan Zimmermann, P

senatorslogoNATIONALS (career numbers off Zimmermann)

  1. Ben Revere, CF (3-for-12, K)
  2. Anthony Rendon, 3B
  3. Bryce Harper, RF
  4. Daniel Murphy, 2B (20-for-61, 5 doubles, 4 HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  5. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
  6. Jayson Werth, LF (2-for-5, HR, K)
  7. Wilson Ramos, C
  8. Danny Espinosa, SS
  9. Max Scherzer, P

Tigers recall Norris, option Collins

After a season-opening DL stint and a stint in the minors, Daniel Norris is back in the big leagues, though not in the way anyone would’ve imagined going into the season. The Tigers recalled the promising young left-hander from Triple-A Toledo, but he’s expected to serve as an extra arm in the bullpen rather than join the rotation.

Norris was a strong candidate for the fifth spot in Detroit’s rotation out of camp before he injured his back. After an up-and-down rehab assignment, the Tigers optioned him to Toledo full-time to work on his stuff.

The 23-year-old Norris is 0-3 with a 9.98 ERA in four starts for the Mud Hens, allowing 17 earned runs on 23 hits over 15 1/3 innings with 10 walks and 19 strikeouts. He gave up seven earned runs on eight hits over 2 1/3 innings in his most recent start last Friday, allowing four walks against five strikeouts.

To open space on the 25-man roster, the Tigers optioned outfielder Tyler Collins back to Toledo after an uneventful two-day stint in the Majors. Detroit recalled Collins on Monday to restore the bench to full strength for Interleague Play, but he didn’t play in either of the first two games against the Nationals. Andrew Romine got a late-inning assignment in center field on Monday over Collins, who has not appeared in a game since his ill-fated game against Oakland at Comerica Park on April 25.

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers at Nationals


Miguel Cabrera was going to get out of the starting lineup tonight or tomorrow night as Brad Ausmus rotates his corner infielders without a designated hitter. He’s out of the lineup tonight after jamming his knee on a hard slide into second base Monday night. His knee is fine, but Ausmus figured that if he’s going to get a game out of the lineup this series, might as well make it this one.

Also getting a game off is Jose Iglesias, mired in a 1-for-19 slump.

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

tigerslogoTIGERS

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. J.D. Martinez, RF
  3. Victor Martinez, 1B
  4. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  5. Justin Upton, LF (0-for-1, walk, K vs. Joe Ross)
  6. James McCann, C
  7. Anthony Gose, CF
  8. Andrew Romine, SS
  9. Michael Fulmer, P

dclogoNATIONALS

  1. Ben Revere, CF
  2. Anthony Rendon, 3B
  3. Bryce Harper, RF
  4. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
  5. Daniel Murphy, 2B
  6. Jayson Werth, LF
  7. Wilson Ramos, C
  8. Danny Espinosa, SS
  9. Joe Ross, P
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