Braves can play spoiler; Tigers still eye playoffs
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves will try to play the role of spoiler this weekend as they finish their occupancy at Turner Field against the Detroit Tigers.
The Braves, firmly ensconced in last place in the National League East, can help deny the Tigers a shot at gaining an American League wild-card spot.
The Tigers (86-73) beat the Braves 6-2 on Friday, and drew to within one-half game of Toronto (87-73), which lost to Boston. The Tigers remain 1 1/2 games behind Baltimore, which defeated New York.
"I had one eye on the scoreboard," Ausmus said. "We do appreciate the help, but we've got to take care of business for ourselves."
If Detroit has a chance to make the playoffs after this weekend, they will make up the Cleveland game that was rained out on Sept. 29. The game will not be played if there are no playoff implications. If the Tigers need to play, they announced Friday that they would start right-hander Michael Fulmer (11-7, 3.06).
"They get it. They know how this works," Ausmus said. "The feeling is we have to win."
The Tigers will send right-hander Jordan Zimmerman (9-6, 4.86) to the mound to oppose Atlanta right-hander Aaron Blair (1-7, 8.02). It is the penultimate game to be played at Turner Field.
Zimmerman will make his 19th appearance, 18th start, of the season against an old rival. Zimmerman has made 18 career starts against Atlanta, all while he was a member of the Washington Nationals. He is 7-3 with a 2.55 ERA against the Braves with 82 strikeouts in 99 innings. He is 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA at Turner Field.
Zimmerman has pitched three innings of scoreless relief on Sept. 25 against Kansas City. It was the first relief appearance of his career.
Blair, a rookie, will make is 15th start and will try to find the form he showed in his Sept. 19 start against the Mets, when he allowed two runs over six innings. He regressed in his last start on Sept. 24 in Miami, giving up five runs in 3 1/3 innings. He has never faced the Tigers.
The Braves are concerned about rookie Tyrell Jenkins, who left the game with tingling in his upper arm after getting two outs in the eighth inning. He left after throwing a ball to Miguel Cabrera.
"We'll get him back in here and look at him," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "There was no reason to push him. We had enough guys in the bullpen to cover the innings."