Slumping Tigers do the lineup shuffle

Slumping Tigers do the lineup shuffle
October 16, 2013, 7:30 pm

DETROIT – Looking to generate more offense, Tigers manager Jim Leyland shook up his lineup for Game 4 of the ALCS Wednesday night at Comerica Park against Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy.

Slugger Miguel Cabrera moved up from his customary third spot to bat second, with Torii Hunter moving from second to leadoff. Austin Jackson moves from leadoff to bat eighth. As in Game 1, Jose Iglesias is starting at shortstop, batting ninth, with Jhonny Peralta moving from short to left field.

“Huge lineup change,” manager Jim Leyland said. “Really, I don't know if it's huge or not, but tonight Hunter is going to lead off, Cabrera is going to hit second, Fielder third, Martinez fourth, Peralta fifth, Avila sixth, Infante seventh, Jackson eighth and Iglesias ninth. That's our lineup for tonight.”

Jackson is batting just .091, going 3-for-33 in the postseason with 18 strikeouts. Cabrera is batting .226 with two extra-base hits, both home runs. Fielder is batting .276 with just one extra-base hit, a double, and with no RBI.

Cabrera has hit in the second spot in just two games in his career during the regular season, both in 2004. He went 2-for-8, both singles, with a run scored, an RBI, and two strikeouts.

“Basically I just moved everybody up,” Leyland said. “And that means in the first inning we'll have Hunter, who's had some success. And you know he's tough, he's had some success against Peavy. And follow it up with two guys that could hit a ball out of the ballpark. Miguel, who is always up in the first inning, obviously, Miguel and Prince will come up in the first inning, Victor behind them. I played Victor behind instead of third because Victor can score Prince. But if you put Miggy and Victor right back‑to‑back, you're talking about two guys who have to pinch-run for them.”

Leyland had considered using left-handed hitting Don Kelly in center field tonight.

“I didn't go that way,” Leyland said. “I want Jackson out there with Fister. And Jackson in the eighth hole tonight, hopefully relax him. The lineup I just gave you is the lineup I'm using tonight. Jackson has had some success against Peavy; Donny has not. So just get him away from it a little bit, the magnitude of that lead‑off spot, and hopefully relax him little bit.”

At this point in the season, though, it’s not easy to make those kinds of changes.

“Well, I think I'm actually doing Austin Jackson a favor,” Leyland said. “He's getting kicked around pretty good right now. I think it's easy to kick people when they're down. I'm not taking him out of the lineup, so I am sticking with him. If I was taking guys out of the lineup, when you're in the postseason you don't really bench somebody, you might sit them. During the season you bench them for a week or something. There's not anything like being benched in the postseason. I am sticking with him, just a different spot. The strikeouts so far, it's got to get to you a little bit.

“And like I said, anybody can kick somebody when they're down little bit. I just wanted to refresh him, put him lower in the lineup, and hopefully that will relax him a little bit. You've got Torii Hunter and Cabrera and Fielder hitting right in the first inning, that's pretty good power and we've got to try to get on the board somehow. And we know we live with extra-base hits and home runs because there's not much speed up there. But the speed that was up there was not getting on base. We maneuvered a little bit. I really thought about this long and hard last night.

“I thought long and hard, if I could come up with something, I thought long and hard about this, and I think it makes a lot of sense. I really do. I mean, we scored one run and no runs in two of the games. It certainly can't hurt. We're going to take a shot. If nothing else, when guys look at the lineup card they kind of look at it a little bit. And maybe it wakes you up a little bit. Not that they've been sleeping, they've been great games. Just a little something to, you know, churn up the butter a little bit.”

Such moves at this time of the year can be perceived as desperation. Leyland said that is not the case.

“I can't cover everything,” he said. “You guys wanted me to change something, and now you want to find the flaw in something we changed. I did what I thought was the right thing to do. And I really wanted to give you guys something to write about and talk about. This should be a good time for you. You can say I'm nuts, you can say I'm dumb, you can say whatever you want. It does give you something to write about. Other than 'Jackson struck out 18 times', 'Leyland needs to do something'. So here it is, have a good time with it. We'll see how it plays out. And I will be willing to answer the questions after the game.”