Detroit is trying to catch the White Sox for second place in the American League Central. Entering Wednesday, the Tigers are three games back with six remaining -- all of which are on the road. And Detroit has struggled away from Comerica Park, posting a 28-47 record, which includes six straight losses at Progressive Field.
The Tigers will try and reverse their luck at Progressive Field on Wednesday, when the two clubs will square off in a doubleheader starting at 4:05 p.m. ET. The doubleheader is due to rain.
If the Tigers can catch the White Sox, it will mark the fourth time in five years the club has finished as the runner-up in the division.
"Sure," Tigers manager Jim Leyland responded when asked if finishing second meant more than finishing third.
"Finishing second is really very simple. It's not as good as finishing first but it's better than finishing third. It's really not hard to spell out. Everybody always wants to have a winning record. You want to win as many as you can. That's what we are trying to do."
The Indians, well, they are in a race just not to finish in last place in the AL Central. Monday's 6-3 win in the series opener helped Cleveland hold a game-and-a-half lead over the cellar-dwelling Royals.
"That's a big win for us to get another game up on the Royals," closer Chris Perez said of his club's victory on Sunday over Kansas City. "Obviously, we don't want to finish last. Finishing in fourth [place in the American League Central] would be awesome."
Max Scherzer will start the first game for the Tigers and he hasn't lost to a divisional foe since his last outing in Cleveland on July 16, when he allowed four earned runs through five innings. Actually, Scherzer has struggled in both starts at Progressive Field this season. Way back on May 9, the right-hander allowed five earned runs through five innings.
But Scherzer has been on a tear of late for the Tigers. He's posted back-to-back wins, allowing a total of two earned runs through 15 2/3 innings with 19 strikeouts. Scherzer has victories in five of his last six decisions.
Although the Tigers won't be in the playoffs this year, Leyland can't help but get excited about the one-two punch of Tigers ace Justin Verlander and Scherzer next season.
"Scherzer's really good," Leyland said, "You know, Verlander and Scherzer back-to-back, or vice versa, however it works out, that's pretty good."
Indians starter Mitch Talbot will take the hill opposite Scherzer. Talbot, who was in the discussion for a potential American League Rookie of the Year award earlier this season, has struggled down the stretch.
The right-hander is 1-7 with a 5.89 ERA over his past 12 outings. His start on Thursday was his first since Sept. 12, as he dealt with a bout of right shoulder inflammation. He gave up three runs over five innings against the Royals.
Pitching at Progressive Field hasn't been beneficial to Talbot, either. He's 3-9 with a 6.31 ERA in 16 starts, compared to 6-4 with a 2.58 ERA in 11 starts on the road.
Verlander and Josh Tomlin will toe the rubber for their respective teams in the nightcap. Both right-handers are coming off complete games in their last outings.
For Tomlin, it was the first time the rookie has gone the distance. He recorded a career high six strikeouts en route to allowing three runs off four hits against the Royals.
"It was pretty rewarding for me," Tomlin said. "I feel very blessed to get this opportunity."
Verlander's complete game was one of his strongest outings of the year. He's tied his season high with 11 strikeouts and allowed only one run, which was unearned.
"He's a horse. He's a big, strong guy that's taken good care of himself," Leyland said. "He's young, he's got strong legs and he's blessed with a great arm. So that's a pretty good combination for him."
However, Scherzer and Verlander may not receive as much run support as they have been accustomed to this season. American League Most Valuable Player candidate Miguel Cabrera went down with a sprained right ankle in the series opener on Monday. X-rays were negative, but it's unlikely he will play on Wednesday.
Indians: Brantley finishing strong
It's been an up and down season for Michael Brantley.
The center fielder started the home opener for the Indians, but was sent down to Triple-A Columbus after only nine games in the big leagues. He held a .156 average (5-for-32) with no homers and three RBIs before the demotion.
However, he saw those numbers spike in Columbus. He played 67 games for the Clippers and hit .319 with four home runs and 29 RBIs. Since being recalled in early July, Brantley has hit .250 with 18 RBIs and three homers for the Indians. So far in September, Brantley has recorded at least one hit in every game he's started, minus an 0-for-5 outing on Sept. 20. He went 1-for-3 on Monday.
"After starting the year [with the Indians] and struggling a little bit, he came down here and was a real pro in the way he went about his business," said Triple-A Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh, who joined Cleveland's staff on Thursday for the remainder of the season.
"To see him turn it around toward the end of the season, it's well deserved because he really worked hard."
Tigers: Peralta returns to Cleveland
Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta returned to Cleveland on Monday for the first time since he was traded at the end of July. He went 2-for-4 against his former team.
Peralta entered Monday's series opener batting .258 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 51 games since joining the Tigers. He left Cleveland in July with a .246 average, seven homers and 43 RBIs in 91 games.
Peralta has said he'd like to stay in Detroit for next season. The club owns a $7.25 million option on the 28-year-old for next season.
"I feel really good right now with everything that I'm doing, defense, offense," Peralta said. "They're happy with what I do, and I'm happy, too."
Indians closer Chris Perez and his wife, Melanie, welcomed the birth of their son, Maxwell Alexander, on Friday. ... Indians manager Manny Acta doesn't expect second baseman Jason Donald (bruised right index finger) to play again this season. ... If Tigers outfielder Johnny Damon starts on Wednesday, it will mark his 140th game played this season for the 15th consecutive year, something just four other Major League players have accomplished. ... The home team has won 14 of the 16 games played between the two clubs. ... Indians outfielder Trevor Crowe will enter Wednesday batting .345 over the course of a career-high 13-game hitting streak, the longest active stretch in the Major Leagues.
Wed, 9/29 4:05 PM ET
Tribe rolls in Game 1 behind Talbot's gem
Indians starter Mitch Talbot tossed seven shutout innings, while Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner both hit two-run dingers off Tigers starter Max Scherzer, as the Tribe won its fifth straight game in Game 1 of a twin bill.
|Jackson, A, CF||4||0||1||0||0||2||1||.299|
|Peralta, Jh, SS||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.252|
TB: Jackson, A; Rhymes; Raburn 2; Peralta, Jh; Boesch; Avila.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Inge.
Team RISP: 0-for-1.
Team LOB: 6.
CS: Rhymes (3, 2nd base by Talbot/Carlin).
Outfield assists: Jackson, A (Valbuena at 2nd base).
DP: (Jackson, A-Rhymes).
2B: LaPorta (15, Scherzer).
HR: Hafner (13, 3rd inning off Scherzer, 1 on, 1 out), Choo (21, 5th inning off Scherzer, 1 on, 0 out).
TB: Choo 6; Hafner 5; LaPorta 2; Marte, A; Valbuena; Carlin.
RBI: Hafner 2 (50), Choo 2 (88).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Crowe 2; Brantley; Marte, A.
Team RISP: 0-for-5.
Team LOB: 7.
Outfield assists: Choo (Inge at 1st base).
DP: 2 (Choo-LaPorta, Carlin-Cabrera, A).
Pitches-strikes: Scherzer 103-62, Thomas, B 30-23, Talbot 93-60, Lewis 10-8, Pestano 18-10.
Groundouts-flyouts: Scherzer 5-3, Thomas, B 3-1, Talbot 3-11, Lewis 1-1, Pestano 0-1.
Batters faced: Scherzer 25, Thomas, B 10, Talbot 25, Lewis 4, Pestano 4.
Umpires: HP: Tim Welke. 1B: Alan Porter. 2B: Bill Welke. 3B: Mike DiMuro.
Weather: 66 degrees, cloudy.
Wind: 4 mph, R to L.
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media