Mariners-Tigers Preview

At 6-feet-10, Seattle Mariners starter Chris Young is a tall assignment for anyone facing him.

That’s certainly been the case when two-time reigning league MVP Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers has seen the big right-hander.

Cabrera is enjoying a strong weekend series despite some bumps and bruises heading into the final 2014 matchup between these contenders Sunday in Detroit.

These teams have taken turns leapfrogging each other in the AL wild card race in this three-game set. Seattle (66-56) moved one-half game ahead with a 7-2 victory Friday before the Tigers ended the Mariners’ five-game win streak by beating Felix Hernandez 4-2 on Saturday.

Detroit (66-55) is also just one-half game behind Kansas City in the AL Central race.

Cabrera is 12 for 29 in his last seven games, going 4 for 7 with three doubles in this series that has proved eventful for him. He injured this thumb on the first play Friday but remained in the contest and needed the attention of Tigers trainer Kevin Rand after getting hit by Hernandez on Saturday.

The slugger is 2 for 12 with a homer and four strikeouts against Young (11-6, 3.20 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA in his last four starts. Young allowed one run over six innings Tuesday to earn a 6-3 home win over Toronto.

Young is 1-0 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts against the Tigers, beating them May 31 by yielding two runs over six-plus innings in a 3-2 win.

Detroit will give Robbie Ray (1-2, 5.31) his second straight start in place of the injured Anibal Sanchez. Ray allowed four runs in five-plus innings Tuesday in a 4-2 defeat at Pittsburgh.

The rookie left-hander went 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in his three other starts in May. He has never faced Seattle.

The Tigers will have a new arm in their bullpen in former All-Star closer Jim Johnson, who was promoted from Triple-A Toledo after Saturday’s contest. Johnson posted a 7.14 ERA in 38 appearances this year for Oakland, which released him Aug. 1.

A fellow Detroit reliever, Joe Nathan, earned his 25th save Saturday in his first home appearance since he made an obscene gesture at fans Wednesday.

”I apologized on Thursday, but I still feel terrible for my actions, so I want to apologize again,” said Nathan, who didn’t celebrate after the final out. ”I’ll keep apologizing until the fans understand how upset I am that I let my frustration get the best of me."

Nick Castellanos homered and drove in two runs for Detroit, improving to 10 for 22 with seven RBIs in his last seven games.

"He’s given us good at-bats, he really has offensively," manager Brad Ausmus said. "For a rookie season, he’s been good, he really has."

AL batting leader Robinson Cano is 3 for 8 with a homer in this series for Seattle and 11 for 30 during an eight-game hitting streak on the road.

Austin Jackson is 1 for 9 in this series as he faces the team that traded him to Seattle in the three-team deadline deal that saw the Tigers get David Price from Tampa Bay.