Saturday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

With the suspense pretty much over about Victor Martinez’s availability for the series, the four-outfielders-for-three-spots scenario is not a question. J.D. Martinez is the DH tonight, with Rajai Davis and Torii Hunter on the corners. Andrew Romine gets the start at shortstop to add another left-handed bat against James Shields, who’s allowing a .292 average and .792 OPS from the left side this year compared with .249 and .717 against righties. The lefty average is the highest of Shields’ career.

No major changes for the Royals in Rick Porcello’s first outing since he joined Twitter. This time, Lorenzo Cain is in right field to start the game after shifting there from center of the middle of the game Friday night.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit (tape delay at 10pm ET), MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

TIGERS (career numbers off Shields)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (10-for-32, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 3 walks, 9 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (10-for-47, 2 doubles, 3 HR, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (19-for-47, 8 doubles, 2 HR, 4 walks, 7 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, DH (3-for-9, double, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  5. Torii Hunter, RF (17-for-53, 4 doubles, 13 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-2)
  7. Alex Avila, C (8-for-25, double, 2 HR, 3 walks, 11 K’s)
  8. Andrew Romine, SS (1-for-3)
  9. Rajai Davis, LF (2-for-16, triple, 3 K’s)

P: Rick Porcello

ROYALS (career numbers against Porcello)

  1. Nori Aoki, LF (0-for-3, K)
  2. Lorenzo Cain, RF (0-for-2, walk, K)
  3. Eric Hosmer, 1B (5-for-16, 2 HR, 2 walks, K)
  4. Salvador Perez, C (2-for-13, 2 K’s)
  5. Omar Infante, 2B (2-for-3, triple)
  6. Billy Butler, DH (14-for-45, 3 doubles, HR, walk, 10 K’s)
  7. Mike Moustakas, 3B (5-for-18, 3 doubles, walk, 3 K’s)
  8. Alcides Escobar, SS (1-for-23, 5 K’s)
  9. Jarrod Dyson, CF (2-for-8, triple, walk, K)

P: James Shields

Why tonight’s Tigers game won’t be broadcast live

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like when not every Tigers game was available to watch on live television, or what it’s like to sit around the house and listen to a game live on the radio, this is your night, because the Tigers-Royals game won’t be broadcast live. It’ll be available live on radio through the Tigers network and online at MLB Gameday Audio. Then, Fox Sports Detroit will have its telecast on tape delay beginning at 10pm ET.

It’s not an FSD decision, but a conflict between the Royals home game schedule and the FOX network national blackout. As part of its Saturday night game package, FOX holds the exclusive broadcast rights for the 7pm window. So, any games going on around that time that FOX isn’t showing can’t be telecast live.

The Tigers have worked around this ever since FSD started picking up the entire schedule, changing their home game times on Saturdays for games that FOX doesn’t pick up. For other teams, especially those that don’t have their entire schedule on TV in the first place, it’s a different story. In Kansas City, there’s a value to having a night game on Saturdays in the hottest part of the summer, rather than a day game. FSKC, for instance, isn’t picking up the game at all.

(Update: ALL of Kansas City’s Saturday home games are 6:10 CT starts)

FOX and MLB have worked around this in past years. Back in 2011, when the Tigers were on the verge of clinching their first division title in 27 years, FOX added a Tigers-A’s game from Oakland for Detroit and Bay Area viewers just in case the Tigers had a chance to clinch that day (they ended up clinching the night before). For a Tigers-Royals game in July, even though it’s a matchup of the top two teams in the AL Central, it wasn’t getting added.

For what it’s worth, the game is listed on the MLB.TV schedule, which means it’s online and on MLB At-Bat for mobile devices. I don’t expect it to be shown live, though, even for viewers out of market.

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

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Victor Martinez is out of the lineup once again, which suggests it’s looking more and more likely he sits through the weekend, which puts his All-Star game status in doubt. He can wait until Sunday to decide that last part, but one would expect that MLB would appreciate as much lead-in time as possible so that whoever would replace him can make travel plans.

Rajai Davis, however, is back in the Tigers starting lineup, playing left field and batting ninth against Royals lefty Danny Duffy.

TIGERS (career numbers against Duffy)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (3-for-17, double, HR, 4 walks, 5 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (2-for-9, HR, walk, K)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (5-for-16, 3 doubles, 6 walks, 4 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-3, HR, K)
  5. Torii Hunter, DH (0-for-5, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-6)
  7. Eugenio Suarez, SS (0-for-2)
  8. Bryan Holaday, C (0-for-6, 3 K’s)
  9. Rajai Davis, LF (1-for-7, double, walk, K)

P: Anibal Sanchez

ROYALS (career numbers off Sanchez)

  1. Nori Aoki, RF
  2. Lorenzo Cain, CF (3-for-13)
  3. Eric Hosmer, 1B (3-for-19, K)
  4. Salvador Perez, C (0-for-12, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  5. Billy Butler, DH (6-for-18, 2 doubles, walk, 3 K’s)
  6. Mike Moustakas, 3B (2-for-12, double, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  7. Omar Infante, 2B (3-for-21, walk, 3 K’s)
  8. Jarrod Dyson, LF (2-for-16, 4 K’s)
  9. Alcides Escobar, SS (5-for-18, 3 K’s)

P: Danny Duffy

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

I’m not in Kansas City, since I’ll be in Minnesota for early All-Star activities. Still, lineups are lineups, especially when there’s still serious question whether Victor Martinez will play again before the break. For tonight’s series opener, at least, he’s still out. Torii Hunter’s at DH, with J.D. Martinez in left field and Don Kelly in right as an extra left-handed bat.

On the Royals side, the batting order is looking a little different with Alex Gordon out with a bad wrist. Old man Raul Ibanez is starting in left field, Omar Infante is batting fifth, and Danny Valencia is the cleanup hitter. Considering Gordon is just 2-for-17 off Drew Smyly, this might work to KC’s advantage, at least at the plate.

If you assumed that Billy Butler hits Drew Smyly well, you’re right. He’s 6-for-11.

TIGERS (career numbers off Jeremy Guthrie)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (5-for-27, double, HR, 2 walks, 8 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (12-for-34, 2 doubles, triple, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (14-for-43, 3 HR, 5 walks, 8 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, LF (4-for-12, double, 2 HR)
  5. Torii Hunter, DH (12-for-40, 3 doubles, 3 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-3, double)
  7. Alex Avila, C (7-for-26, 2 doubles, 3 HR, 4 walks, 8 K’s)
  8. Eugenio Suarez, SS (0-for-2, K)
  9. Don Kelly, RF (4-for-18, 5 K’s)

P: Drew Smyly

ROYALS (career numbers off Smyly)

  1. Lorenzo Cain, RF (2-for-4, K)
  2. Eric Hosmer, 1B (3-for-15, double, walk, 4 K’s)
  3. Salvador Perez, C (1-for-4, HR)
  4. Danny Valencia, 3B (1-for-5, K)
  5. Omar Infante, 2B (1-for-6, HR)
  6. Billy Butler, DH (6-for-11, double, walk, 2 K’s)
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF (1-for-2, double)
  8. Alcides Escobar, SS (3-for-14, double, 4 K’s)
  9. Jarrod Dyson, CF (1-for-4, 3 K’s)

P: Jeremy Guthrie

Max Scherzer, All-Star starter (again)? Probably not

A week ago at this point, most of us were wondering whether Max Scherzer might be snubbed out of the All-Star Game altogether. Now, after his latest gem, it’s worth wondering if he could start the Midsummer Classic again.

Between the makeup of the AL pitching staff and the recent results, it’s not that crazy, though it’s unlikely.

Scherzer’s win over the Dodgers Wednesday tied him with Rick Porcello for second in the American League with 11 wins. The one American Leaguer with more, 12-game winner Masuhiro Tanaka, is out after going on the disabled list with elbow soreness.

That opens the door for a lot of candidates. Felix Hernandez would seem to have the strongest resume, boasting a 10-2 record to go with a 2.11 ERA for the resurgent Mariners. Mark Buehrle has 10 wins and a 2.60 ERA, though he also has six losses to go with that. Scott Kazmir is 10-3 with a 2.53 ERA.

None of them are on track to start Sunday, so they’re not going to be ruled out.

Scherzer has the advantage on wins (11-3 record) as well as strikeouts, but heads into the break with a 3.35 ERA. Hernandez tops him on strikeout-to-walk ratio, hits per nine innings, innings pitched, home runs allowed and Wins Above Replacement.

In short, it looks like a long shot. The fact that Scherzer could even be considered in this conversation, though, is a testament to his performance over the last month.

Steven Moya starts triple play for Double-A Erie

Steven Moya heads into Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game with some very good numbers, among them an Eastern-League leading 22 home runs and 185 total bases along with 24 doubles and 72 RBIs. Now, he can count one triple play.

Thanks to MILB.com for the video from Wednesday’s game at Altoona, which shows what happened better than I can explain it:

 

Ashley Marshall had a cool writeup on the setup for the play.

“Everybody was pretty excited,” said first baseman Corey Jones. “A few guys said it was their first one and our trainer, T.J. Saunders, said he had never seen one before. It was a huge momentum builder for us and a killer for them.

“They say a double play is an inning killer, but a triple play is as good as it gets. I ran right up to [Parrish] and said, ‘You told us you wanted a triple play, so you got one.’ The only other people who knew what I was talking about were the pitcher, the catcher and the other infielders who were there during the mound visit. It was pretty funny.”

Teammates picked it up from there:

Moya had his usual impact at the plate, too, hitting a triple with two RBIs and a pair of walks — his 13th and 14th walks on the season to temper that strikeout-to-walk ratio a little bit. His OPS stands at .841 with a .263 batting average and .293 on-base percentage.

Moya will be part of the World Team for Sunday’s Futures Game at Target Field in Minneapolis, airing live at 5pm ET on MLB Network. It’s probably my favorite part of the All-Star festivities.

Porcello to make donation for Final Vote tweets

Considering Rick Porcello offered up his old jersey number to Torii Hunter for a donation to Superstorm Sandy relief a couple years ago, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s trying to turn his Final Vote candidacy into an off-field impact. He needs a lot of help from fans to do it, though.

As part of the All-Star Final Vote last-day push, votes are being counted on twitter until 4pm ET using hashtags. For every tweet using the #PickRick hashtag, Porcello will make a donation of 21 cents to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, up to a total donation of $21,000. That covers 100,000 tweets.

It might not get him an All-Star roster spot, but it should get a positive impact. It’s also a way to show his gratitude for the support he has received, not just from the Tigers but nationwide.

“I’m not used to that kind of attention. I’m definitely flattered by it for sure,” Porcello said Wednesday. “It’s pretty cool to see people that are supporting you. On a completely personal level, that’s definitely very nice. I’m very thankful.

“It’s been a new experience for me in my career, and it’s been something whether I win it or not that I’ll never forget. It’s been a pretty cool couple of days.”

The Twitter vote campaign is in its third year. Until 4pm, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.

Fans can also cast votes on the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the Final Vote ballot, text the word “VOTE” to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text their choice to 89269. For example: Text “A3″ to vote for AL Player 3 or “N3″ to vote for NL Player 3. Standard message and data rates may apply. Text “STOP” to end and “HELP” for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.

Wednesday’s lineups: Miguel Cabrera’s day off

Brad Ausmus had been talking about trying to get Miguel Cabrera a day off, but had been holding off with Victor Martinez unavailable. He has held off no longer, sitting Cabrera for the getaway day against the Dodgers with four games coming up in Kansas City.

Don Kelly, 3-for-8 off Zack Greinke, gets the start at first base. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but let’s be honest: Even if Kelly was 3-for-13 against Greinke, you’d be somewhat surprised. For what it’s worth, Cabrera is 10-for-35 with a double, home run and 11 strikeouts against Greinke.

The Dodgers pull a surprise and use the same lineup they had last night, including Hanley Ramirez at DH.

TIGERS (career numbers against Greinke)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (1-for-10, K)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (4-for-26, HR, 7 K’s)
  3. Torii Hunter, DH (9-for-33, 2 doubles, 3 HR, walk, 5 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-10, walk, 2 K’s)
  5. Don Kelly, 1B (3-for-8, 2 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Alex Avila, C (3-for-11, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  8. Eugenio Suarez, SS
  9. Rajai Davis, LF (2-for-11, walk, 3 K’s)

P: Max Scherzer

DODGERS (career numbers off Scherzer)

  1. Dee Gordon, 2B (3-for-8, double, HR)
  2. Yasiel Puig, RF
  3. Hanley Ramirez, DH (0-for-6, 3 K’s)
  4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B (4-for-20, double, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  5. Matt Kemp, LF (0-for-18, walk, 5 K’s)
  6. Andre Ethier, CF (6-for-18, double, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  7. Juan Uribe, 3B (3-for-10, double, K)
  8. A.J. Ellis, C (1-for-3)
  9. Miguel Rojas, SS

P: Zack Greinke

Game 86: Verlander reprises Pitch Conservation Mode

This wasn’t the vintage form Justin Verlander had in mind. He’ll take it.

Before Justin Verlander had his MVP season in 2011, he had more than a few outings like this — crooked numbers and high pitch counts in the opening inning, followed by quick innings and zeros to salvage a winnable outing. He gave up a five-run, 43-pitch first inning April 11, 2010, then held the Indians to one hit over the next four innings before giving up another run in the sixth.

In 2010, I used to think of it as Verlander going into Pitch Conservation Mode — get early contact, get outs, get out of the inning quick, eat up as many innings as he can. Tuesday was a bit like that — five runs within the first seven batters, 31 pitches in the opening inning, then five shutout innings over 69 pitches to qualify for the win.

“You kind of walk a fine line there,” Verlander said, “between pitch conservation and not giving up any more runs, because you know if you give up any more runs, that’s probably going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, especially when your team goes out there and starts to score some runs to get you back in the ballgame.”

He did it Tuesday by getting a feel for his secondary pitches and changing speeds. In the opening inning, didn’t seem to have a feel for any pitch other than his fastball. He was still kicking himself after the game for a changeup he threw to Adrian Gonzalez for a two-run double that opened the scoring, and he couldn’t be happy with the 0-2 curveball he hung to Juan Uribe for his two-run homer later on.

“The curveball to Uribe was homer. And then the changeup to Gonzalez was just a little bit up,” Verlander said. “You take those two away, or better executed, and it’s probably not a bad inning at all. If I execute that changeup to Gonzalez, we probably get a double play. It just didn’t happen. It is what it is. It happens. Gotta get better.”

He got better. It just happened from the second inning on.

Not only did all five of Verlander’s runs come in the opening inning, so did four of the five hits he allowed. He shut down the Dodgers offense following Uribe’s two-run homer until Hanley Ramirez walked leading off the sixth and Matt Kemp singled off the glove of a diving Nick Castellanos two batters later.

The stretch in between saw Verlander, who struggled to locate anything but his fastball in the opening inning, change speeds and flummox Dodgers hitters after that, retiring 13 in a row. The curveball that hung for Uribe to hit out on an 0-2 pitch sent down Matt Kemp swinging to end the third inning and induced an Andre Ethier comebacker in the fourth.

It was a good lineup that he shut down.

“Obviously first innings have been a little bit of an issue,” Verlander said. “That probably goes into finding a rhythm and getting things going. Hopefully it gets easier and easier and those first innings are no longer an issue.”

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Dodgers

Still no Victor Martinez today, so J.D. Martinez gets another day at DH. With the day game tomorrow, it could be Kansas City before Victor Martinez gets in a game, though they could also simply decide to sit him until the break.

The Dodgers take advantage of the DH spot to get Hanley Ramirez out of the field. In past Interleague series, the Dodgers have rotated players at DH, including Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. Venezuelan Miguel Rojas gets the start at shortstop.

Reminder for those of you outside of Michigan that tonight’s game is on MLB Network, continuing a stretch where the Tigers have been on national television for several days.

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

TIGERS

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

P: Justin Verlander

DODGERS (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. Dee Gordon, 2B
  2. Yasiel Puig, RF
  3. Hanley Ramirez, DH
  4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B (2-for-14, HR, 5 walks, 3 K’s)
  5. Matt Kemp, LF
  6. Andre Ethier, CF
  7. Juan Uribe, 3B (2-for-15, double, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  8. A.J. Ellis, C
  9. Miguel Rojas, SS

P: Hyun-Jin Ryu

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