Two of the American League's best teams are set to square off this week at Fenway Park. How these three games shake out between the Tigers and Red Sox could have a big impact on who owns the best record in the AL -- and home-field advantage -- come October.
But that's not how they're looking at it. Not yet, anyway.
"We've just got to win games. It doesn't matter who you're playing," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We've just got to continue to win games and see how it plays out."
"I wouldn't say [this series is] a measuring stick," added Red Sox manager John Farrell. "This is another series that we'll prepare for ... and continue our process and go out and continue to execute hopefully the way we have."
Both Detroit and Boston have done that so far this season, entering Monday as the only two AL teams with at least 80 wins. They'll look to solidify their status as the AL's top clubs starting Monday afternoon, when Doug Fister and John Lackey square off at Fenway Park.
"They're a very good team. We know we're going to get good starting pitching thrown at us, a top offense in the game," Farrell said. "Any time you look at a guy like [Miguel] Cabrera or [Prince] Fielder, guys in the middle of that order, it will be important for us to contain the guys ahead of them, to hopefully do what we can to keep them off base and go out and continue to pitch the way our starters have."
Fister has had some difficulty dealing with the Red Sox lately, giving up six runs on 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings on June 21 and six runs on 11 hits over five innings last season. In seven career matchups with Boston, Fister has just one win and one quality start to go along with a 5.20 ERA.
Lackey, meanwhile, is 6-2 with a 3.87 ERA in his career against Detroit. But to maintain that, he'll need a little more run support than he's been getting lately. Despite four quality starts and a 3.09 ERA in August, the veteran right-hander went just 1-3.
Lackey and the Red Sox will face their former infielder, Jose Iglesias, for the first time since he was dealt to the Tigers in the July 30 deal that brought Jake Peavy to Boston. Iglesias hit a surprising .330/.376/.409 in 63 games for the Red Sox and has continued to hit well for the Tigers while providing excellent defense at shortstop.
"It's hard. He's obviously an incredible defensive player, a developing player. He's grown up a lot, helped us win this year, and he's going to be a good player in the big leagues for a long time," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said of Iglesias. "We were certainly sad to see him go. He's a guy who's fun to watch because of what he does defensively."
Tigers: Cabrera day to day with injury
Miguel Cabrera sat out for the second straight game in Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Indians as he continues to receive treatment on the abdominal strain that also forced him out of Thursday and Friday's games. Leyland believes that Cabrera is making progress, although he's still uncertain when Cabrera will return.
"He was moving around a little bit today, smiling, came down on the bench a little bit," Leyland said after Sunday's game. "He got treated all day. I can't tell you when he'll play. I don't really know the answer to that."
• Reliever Octavio Dotel won't pitch again this season, as the Tigers recalled him from his Minor League rehab assignment, but did not activate him from the disabled list due to persistent forearm tightness. The injury forced Dotel from his outing with Triple-A Toledo on Friday, with team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski noting that the veteran reliever is "just not feeling 100 percent."
Red Sox: Bard designated for assignment
Once an elite setup man out of Boston's bullpen, Daniel Bard was designated for assignment Sunday, possibly bringing an end to his time with the Red Sox.
If Bard goes unclaimed by another team, he could stay in the Red Sox organization.
Bard was sent to the Minors last June and has spent most of his time there since with what Farrell described as "a combination of delivery issues that were being ironed out and certainly confidence issues." Farrell noted that the Red Sox "haven't turned our back on him" and hope to get him back on track, but they needed a roster spot.
• The Red Sox made their first wave of September callups Sunday. Speedy outfielder Quintin Berry (a former Tiger), utility infielder John McDonald, catcher Ryan Lavarnway and right-hander Rubby De La Rosa were all added to the active roster, and infielder Brandon Snyder was activated from the disabled list. Boston will continue to add players to its expanded roster, with more coming when Triple-A Pawtucket's season ends.
• Before giving up six runs to the White Sox on Sunday, the Red Sox had allowed three runs or fewer in 11 straight games, their longest such streak since 1988.
• Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez is batting .386 (86-for-223) with 17 doubles, five homers, 33 RBIs and 30 runs scored in 56 games since July 1.