Saturday’s lineups: Tigers at Twins

James McCann gets back behind the plate to catch Alfredo Simon. That moves Marc Krauss up to fifth in the Tigers batting order as Brad Ausmus keeps a lefty bat between J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos. Rajai Davis gets a start in center against Phil Hughes, who’s giving up a slightly higher average against right-handed hitters.

Reminder if you plan on watching: Today’s game is a Fox Sports 1 broadcast, not Fox Sports Detroit. Consult your local listings.

Gameday | TV: Fox Sports 1, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

tigerroarlogoTIGERS (career numbers opposing Hughes)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (7-for-29, 3 doubles, triple, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  2. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (6-for-12, 3 doubles, triple, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  3. Victor Martinez, DH (7-for-32, 2 doubles, 4 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-5, HR, 3 K’s)
  5. Marc Krauss, 1B
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (3-for-9, double, walk, 4 K’s)
  7. James McCann, C (1-for-2, double)
  8. Rajai Davis, CF (7-for-32, 4 doubles, walk, 6 K’s)
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (2-for-6, K)

P: Alfredo Simon

twinsshakinghandslogoTWINS (career numbers off Simon)

  1. Brian Dozier, 2B (1-for-4, K)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (1-for-8, double, walk, 3 K’s)
  3. Joe Mauer, 1B (1-for-9, K)
  4. Miguel Sano, DH
  5. Trevor Plouffe, 3B (1-for-5, walk, K)
  6. Eddie Rosario, LF
  7. Aaron Hicks, CF (0-for-3, K)
  8. Kurt Suzuki, C (4-for-10, double, 2 HR, K)
  9. Danny Santana, SS (1-for-3, triple)

P: Phil Hughes

Tigers sign former Rangers closer Neftali Feliz

The Tigers already had former Texas Rangers closers Joe Nathan and Joakim Soria on their roster as part of their bullpen reconstruction efforts the last couple years. With Detroit’s relief corps desperately needing another veteran arm and Neftali Perez suddenly on the market, they went down the familiar path, signing the 27-year-old right-hander for the rest of the season.

Feliz joined the Tigers in Minnesota and was placed on the active roster immediately. Jeff Ferrell, called up last week after one outing at Triple-A Toledo but unused since last Sunday, was optioned back to Toledo to make room.

Feliz is best known for his 40-save season with Texas in 2010, but his most recent work was a rough half-season before the Rangers designated him for assignment last week.

This is Feliz’s second season since Tommy John surgery, which is seen by many as the point when pitchers get back to their old form. In Feliz’s case, though, the results were better last season, even if the stuff has bumped up. He gave up 10 runs on 24 hits over 19 2/3 innings, walking nine and striking out 16. He recorded six saves in nine chances, with a six-week stint on the disabled list mixed in for an axillary absess on his right side.

Feliz’s fastball has averaged 93.8 mph this season, according to Fangraphs, about midway between his 93.1 mph average last year and his 94.7 mph average in 2012 before surgery. The fastball, however, is getting hit more often, for a .374 BABIP according to STATS. He’s throwing more sliders now than he ever has before.

Feliz becomes the latest attempt by the Tigers to catch a reliever on the bounceback from injuries or struggles. They got some good work out of Joba Chamberlain for about two-thirds of last year before he seemed to wear down, but got little out of midseason pickup Jim Johnson. Tom Gorzelanny’s signing last offseason didn’t work out as hoped. Of those three, only Gorzelanny remains, and he’s in Toledo trying to work on his new sidearm throwing angle.

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at Twins

Same lineup for Tigers as Thursday. The Twins, meanwhile, get Danny Santana in at short and Eddie Rosario in left.

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

tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers off Ervin Santana)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (20-for-57, 6 doubles, triple, HR, 4 walks, 5 K’s)
  2. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (2-for-11, 2 HR, walk, 2 K’s)
  3. Victor Martinez, DH (8-for-22, HR, walk, 2 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-3, K)
  5. Alex Avila, C (1-for-8, HR, walk, K)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Marc Krauss, 1B
  8. Anthony Gose, CF (1-for-3, triple, K)
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-2)

P: Justin Verlander

twinslogoTWINS (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. Brian Dozier, 2B (3-for-13, double, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (13-for-48, 3 doubles, triple, HR, 2 walks, 9 K’s)
  3. Joe Mauer, 1B (24-for-65, 5 doubles, 3 HR, 12 walks, 11 K’s)
  4. Miguel Sano, DH
  5. Trevor Plouffe, 3B (7-for-31, 3 doubles, 8 K’s)
  6. Eddie Rosario, LF
  7. Aaron Hicks, CF (0-for-6, 4 K’s)
  8. Kurt Suzuki, C (9-for-33, 2 doubles, walk, 4 K’s)
  9. Danny Santana, SS (3-for-6, triple)

P: Ervin Santana

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers at Twins

Ian Kinsler returns to the starting lineup at the leadoff spot. Marc Krauss, Alex Avila and Anthony Gose start as well, loading up the Tigers lineup with left-handed hitters against Mike Pelfrey, who actually has allowed a lower batting average to left-handed hitters (.275) than to righties (.307) this season as well as for his career but has allowed a higher OPS in both cases.

TIGERS (career numbers off Pelfrey)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (2-for-12, double, 2 K’s)
  2. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (4-for-10, 2 doubles, K)
  3. Victor Martinez, DH (5-for-20, double, walk, 3 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (3-for-6, double, 3 K’s)
  5. Alex Avila, C (3-for-11, 4 walks, 5 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (2-for-5, HR, walk)
  7. Marc Krauss, 1B (1-for-3, K)
  8. Anthony Gose, CF (3-for-9, double, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (3-for-7)

P: David Price

TWINS (career numbers off Price)

  1. Brian Dozier, 2B (6-for-24, 2 doubles, 2 HR, walk, 4 K’s)
  2. Joe Mauer, 1B (5-for-30, double, 4 walks, 7 K’s)
  3. Trevor Plouffe, 3B (7-for-18, double, walk, 4 K’s)
  4. Miguel Sano, DH
  5. Torii Hunter, RF (8-for-29, double, HR, 2 walks, 8 K’s)
  6. Eduardo Nunez, SS (9-for-37, 2 doubles, HR, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
  7. Aaron Hicks, CF (3-for-8, 2 doubles, walk, 3 K’s)
  8. Kurt Suzuki, C (6-for-28, 3 doubles, HR, walk, 10 K’s)
  9. Shane Robinson, LF (0-for-2, walk, K)

P: Mike Pelfrey

Cespedes remains third in AL Final Vote

The AL Final Vote results continue to mirror the AL Central standings: Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas on top, followed by Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, then Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Dozier has cut into Moustakas’ lead, according to a Thursday morning press release, which did not mention whether there was much difference in Cespedes’ deficit.

So far, the Tigers-Reds partnership to promote votes for Cespedes and Johnny Cueto seems to be more beneficial to Cueto, who leads the NL Final Vote.

Also, if you’re thinking that Alex Gordon’s injury opened a spot for Cespedes to make the All-Star team anyway, think again. Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, who was fourth in Final Vote balloting, was named to replace Gordon on the roster.

No J.D. Martinez in Home Run Derby

J.D. Martinez entered Wednesday tied for fifth in the Majors in home runs, but ended up on the outside looking in on the Home Run Derby. Major League Baseball announced the eight-man field Wednesday, and Martinez wasn’t in it.

Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson comprise the American League portion of the field. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Joc Pederson and Todd Frazier are going from the NL.

“I mean, I would’ve liked to do it,” Martinez said. “It would’ve been cool. But I guess I’ve gotta pay my dues, wait another year.”

Martinez said he was asked by the MLBPA earlier in the week whether he’d be interested. After mulling it over, and looking over the new rules, he said yes. He did not hear back. He was disappointed, but didn’t want to make an issue out of it.

“It’s not a big deal,” Martinez said.

Also left out of the field was Yoenis Cespedes, the two-time defending champion. He had said last month he’d be interested if he made the All-Star team. He’s currently in the Final Vote contest, though Alex Gordon’s status could impact Cespedes. Gordon, elected to a starting outfield spot by the fans, left Wednesday’s game for the Royals with a left groin injury after crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium.

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers at Mariners

Seattle 018

Day off for Ian Kinsler, who’s had some success off J.A. Happ but looked the first two games of this series like he could use a day. Jefry Marte gets his first Major League start at first base.

The forecast calls for more warm weather today, which means more drives carrying. That could be a challenge for both pitchers, given Sanchez’s trouble with home runs (18 of them this year) and J.A. Happ facing a righty-heavy lineup.

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

tigers1927logoTIGERS (career numbers off Happ)

  1. Rajai Davis, CF
  2. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (3-for-13, double, walk, 5 K’s)
  3. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-2, walk, K)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-3)
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B (2-for-2, double)
  6. James McCann, C
  7. Jefry Marte, 1B
  8. Andrew Romine, 2B (0-for-4)
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Anibal Sanchez

marinerslogoMARINERS (career numbers off Sanchez)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Kyle Seager, 3B (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B (2-for-10, double)
  4. Nelson Cruz, DH (1-for-5, HR, walk, K)
  5. Seth Smith, RF (9-for-22, double, 4 HR, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  6. Mark Trumbo, 1B (3-for-12, 2 K’s)
  7. Dustin Ackley, LF (1-for-3, triple, K)
  8. Brad Miller, SS
  9. Jesus Sucre, C

P: J.A. Happ

Ausmus discusses extra-inning scoring chances

Alex Avila entered Tuesday nine sacrifice bunts in 12 attempts since 2010, including five against left-handed pitching. When he stepped to the plate in the 11th inning Tuesday night, he had runners at first and second and nobody out, and two chances to get the bunt down against lefty reliever and former teammate Charlie Furbush.

On the flip side, manager Brad Ausmus had right-handed hitting catcher James McCann on his bench if he wanted to take a chance and pinch-hit for Avila. Under a different situation, Ausmus said, he probably would’ve done it. For him, however, that situation was a bunting one. It wasn’t just about advancing the runners, but preserving the catcher.

“I’d prefer to not expend both catchers, if possible,” Ausmus said after the game. “Now, if it was a situation where there was just a runner on second — if it wasn’t a bunting situation — I would’ve used McCann to hit.”

Furbush has been tough on hitters from both sides of the plate this season. Left-handed batters are 4-for-38 with 11 strikeouts against him. Right-handed hitters are 5-for-36 with six strikeouts, but two of those hits have been home runs. Both of those were in blowout games from Astros: Chris Carter in a 9-0 contest, and Marwin Gonzalez in an 11-0 game.

Avila took a first-pitch ball, then bunted back-to-back pitches foul — one a foul pop-up that Kyle Seager nearly caught. Furbush then retired him on a called third strike, starting him on his way to striking out the side and ending Detroit’s chance to win it.

“When you’re called upon to get a bunt down, you’ve gotta get it down,” Avila said. “That’s the bottom line. Furbush is tough, obviously, but I didn’t get the job done.”

Even if he had, there’s no guarantee the hitters after him would’ve gotten the runner in. A successful bunt would’ve put runners at second and third with one out for hot-hitting Nick Castellanos. The way Castellanos had been hitting, the Mariners could have opted to walk him and set up the force play at every base with left-handed hitter Marc Krauss coming up. Rajai Davis hit for Krauss.

That’s a situation Ausmus would’ve taken.

On the play an inning earlier, where Anthony Gose legged out a double and hesitated at third base when Mariners shortstop Brad Miller booted Ian Kinsler’s ground ball, Ausmus said he didn’t see for sure but thought third-base coach Dave Clark held him up. He did say it’s not like a normal two-out situation where the baserunner keeps going.

“The problem is, if he keeps running [and Miller doesn’t boot it a second time], he’s going to pick it up and throw him out at home,” Ausmus said. “And then he kicks it, so Dave’s holding him after the initial fumble of the ball. Now he kicks it, and Dave’s trying to start him up again, and he can’t. It was just a funny play that you don’t see. If he had kicked it that far initially, Dave would’ve kept him going, I’m sure. But it was an initial miss of the ground ball, and then he kicked it.”

Cespedes third in AL Final Vote

The normally pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field have been no match for Yoenis Cespedes so far this week. The online ballot box of the All-Star Final Vote is another matter.

Despite home runs in each of the last two nights, Cespedes ranks third in the American League balloting, trailing two division foes. Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas leads, demonstrating again the ballot prowess coming out of Kansas City, followed by Twins second baseman Brian Dozier.

Cespedes has been gaining ground after a big early deficit, according to a Wednesday morning release. But he’ll have more work to do in order to make his second consecutive All-Star team and defend his back-to-back Home Run Derby titles.

Cespedes has not benefited from prime time display, playing late-night West Coast games each of the last two evenings. On the flip side, he has pummeled a Mariners pitching staff he has hit for 17 of his 83 career home runs, and a ballpark where the ball has been uncharacteristically flying.

One night after hitting an estimated 411-foot drive to left-center field to start a go-ahead rally for the Tigers, he nearly matched it with a 409-foot to near straightaway center. The two-out solo shot in the eighth inning tied the game for Detroit, sending Tuesday’s game into extra innings.

Voting is open now at MLB.com to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each League until 4 p.m. ET on Friday.

Cespedes might be benefiting some from the Tigers’ partnership with the Reds, encouraging fans of both clubs to vote Cespedes on the AL side and Reds ace Johnny Cueto for the National League. Cueto leads the NL candidates with about 4.7 million votes, but Moustakas has 7.5 million votes on the AL side.

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers at Mariners

  
Marc Krauss joins the team and immediately slots into the starting lineup, batting seventh at first base against red-hot M’s starter Taijuan Walker. Alex Avila, who has reached base safely in 7 of 16 plate appearances since coming off the disabled list, is back behind the plate for Kyle Ryan. One would figure James McCann will be back in the lineup Wednesday to face J.A. Happ with an early start after a night game.

The Mariners, meanwhile, mix in some right-handed hitters against Kyle Ryan, notably Franklin Gutierrez (4-for-9 off LHPs since his return) and Mark Trumbo (five home runs in 67 at-bats vs. lefties this season).

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

84tigerslogoTIGERS

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  3. Victor Martinez, DH
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF
  5. Alex Avila, C
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Marc Krauss, 1B
  8. Anthony Gose, CF (0-for-3, 2 K’s vs. Taijuan Walker)
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Kyle Ryan

oldmarinerslogoMARINERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Franklin Gutierrez, LF
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Nelson Cruz, RF
  5. Kyle Seager, 3B
  6. Mark Trumbo, DH
  7. Logan Morrison, 1B
  8. Mike Zunino, C
  9. Chris Taylor, SS

P: Taijuan Walker

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