Tigers-Indians Preview

With the Tigers having long been out of the playoff race, the

only question in Detroit was whether Miguel Cabrera would win AL

MVP.

Now that could be in jeopardy in the final week of the

season.

Two days after Cabrera suffered a likely season-ending right

ankle injury, the Tigers conclude a three-game series against the

Cleveland Indians with a doubleheader Wednesday.

Cabrera has struggled all season in Cleveland, hitting .217 at

Progressive Field, but Monday’s game has the potential to end a

career-best year on a sour note.

The first baseman left a 6-3 loss in the seventh inning when he

landed awkwardly while trying to get back to first base on a

pickoff attempt. He limped from the field and was in a walking boot

before Tuesday’s game, which was postponed due to rain.

Cabrera said he hopes to play in at least one of the remaining

six games, but manager Jim Leyland wasn’t nearly as optimistic.

“He’s not too good,” Leyland said. “He’s hurting. I’m not

expecting too much too soon.”

It’s bad timing for the MVP candidate, who had four homers and

eight RBIs in his previous six games. Cabrera tops the majors with

126 RBIs and is among the AL leaders with 38 home runs and a .328

batting average.

The Tigers (80-76) will try to bounce back after Monday’s loss

in which Travis Hafner, Matt LaPorta and Luke Carlin all homered in

the fifth inning for Cleveland. Detroit had won eight of nine

coming in, averaging 7.4 runs, but has been outscored 34-15 while

losing six straight at Progressive Field.

The Indians (66-91) have scored 24 runs during a four-game

winning streak, their longest since a season-best six-game run July

16-20. They’ll try to keep it up in the first game against Max

Scherzer (12-10 3.40 ERA), who has won his last two starts.

Scherzer gave up two hits in 7 2-3 scoreless innings of a 4-2

win over Kansas City last Wednesday, lowering his ERA over his last

11 starts to 1.93.

“He very well could be the best pitcher in our league right

now,” Tigers designated hitter Johnny Damon said.

However, the right-hander is 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts

against the Indians this season, going 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in two

at Cleveland.

Mitch Talbot (9-13, 4.61) will counter for the Indians, looking

to avoid a third straight loss.

On Thursday, he pitched for the first time since Sept. 12 when

he left in the first inning because of inflammation in his throwing

shoulder. Talbot gave up three runs in five innings of a 4-2 loss

to the Royals.

The right-hander is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against

the Tigers this season.

Justin Verlander (18-8, 3.31), who has a 1.64 ERA in winning his

last four outings, is scheduled to make his final start of the year

in the nightcap with an opportunity to match his career high for

wins, set last season.

Verlander, who has never won five consecutive starts, is coming

off his second straight complete game, allowing an unearned run and

four hits in Friday’s 10-1 win over Minnesota. The right-hander

struck out 11 to become the first Tiger to strike out 200 batters

in consecutive seasons since Jack Morris in 1987-88.

Verlander, 5-0 with a 1.96 ERA in seven starts since losing to

New York on Aug. 17, allowed one run and seven hits in eight

innings of an 8-1 win over the Indians on Aug. 22. He is 3-0 with a

2.57 ERA in four starts in Cleveland since the start of last

season.

Rookie Josh Tomlin (5-4, 4.50) looks to build on a strong outing

when he opposes Verlander.

After being tagged for a career-high six runs in a 6-4 loss in

Kansas City on Sept. 19, Tomlin allowed three runs and four hits in

his first complete game, a 7-3 win over the Royals on Friday. The

25-year-old right-hander struck out a career-best six while

throwing 112 pitches.

Tomlin struggled in his lone start against the Tigers, giving up

five runs and seven hits in six innings of a 5-2 loss at Comerica

Park on Aug. 21.