Detroit Tigers: 80-56, 1st Place (8.5 ahead of Cleveland).
Well, this is it, that last Tigers-Indians game of 2013. The Tigers will finish the season series either 16-3 or 15-4 against Cleveland, depending on what Justin Verlander and the B Team can do this afternoon. As the Indians leave the field toward that visitor’s clubhouse for the last time, I am sure there will be a wistful sigh or two from the Tigers. Then it’s off to Boston, in a match of two of the three contenders for the AL best record.
10-5 looks like a pretty easy win, but the W came only after some late-inning excitement. After cruising with a lead that ranged from 4-1 to 6-3, Santana came up with one on in the 8th and hit a long fly to the wall in Center. Jackson seemed to have it played well and be there in time, but the ball bounced off of his glove, and Jackson bounced off the wall, seemingly hurt. Santana ended up with what was called an inside-the-park HR, which closed the score to 6-5 (is it just me, or did it seem to take Dirks a really long time to realize what was happening and back up Jackson?). Apparently Austin was OK, because he scorched a 2-run triple in the bottom of the 8th, and the Tigers were back to a comfortable lead.
But not before adding a run on another squeeze play–that”s two this season. And it was the same guy, Jose Iglesias. The Indians knew it was coming, and even tried a pitchout in an attempt to catch Jackson leaving early. And in fact the Indians’ Allen threw an unbuntable pitch, as Jackson streaked home. Except, somehow, Iglesias got the bunt down, getting the bat up above his head to do it, making Rod Allen look silly (“that was not a very good bunt”). If you watch the replay, at least one, maybe both feet were off of the ground when he made the bunt–the pitch was that high. Good stuff.
It’s not all good, though. Cabrera is still out, Jackson is out (“I’m just real suspicious that he’s going to be pretty sore,” says Leyland, “so I’m going to give him a blow today”), and we all have our fingers crossed that Justin Verlander is not going to struggle again on the mound. He will be facing the young phenom Danny Salazar, who looked good his first time against Detroit, striking out Cabrera 3 times before eventually getting Miggied.
Phil Coke and Hernan Perez had been recalled to the team on Saturday, replacing Jeremy Bonderman and Luke Putkonen. Word is that Putkonen will re-join the team on Monday, and Bonderman on Tuesday.
Octavio Dotel was a planned addition, but was taken out of his last rehab appearance with forearm tightness. He will be shut down for 2013. What that means though is that the Tigers get another injury exemption for adding to their playoff-eligible list (the other came when they put Marte on the 60-Day DL).
In other news: the Tigers fired–er, I mean, declined to extend the contract of–Toledo Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin. Dave Dombrowski said: “He’s worked hard. He’s a good man, been part of us for a while. Sometimes you just need to change the voice.”
Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Jose Iglesias / Omar Infante. I’m going for a 2-fer here. I’m predicting the I-Team bails out Justin Verlander with a key DP or two, and sparks the lineup (Jose will take the first half of the lineup, Omar the 2nd). The pair hit a solid .321 combined for the month of August. I was going to go with Brayan Pena if he had been in the lineup. BP closed out August with a mere 25-for-63 (.397).
Tonight’s Small-Ball Lineup: