OAKLAND -- The Tigers wrapped up the American League Central crown on Friday night, but they won't lack motivation during the remainder of the regular season because home-field advantage in the postseason is still up for grabs.
"This is a built-in shot for us to stay sharp," manager Jim Leyland said before Sunday's game against the A's. "This is a slam dunk that we need to stay sharp. We're going for something.
"Truthfully, I want that game bad, that extra game at home. For a lot of reasons. First of all, we like being at home. Second of all, it gives your fans -- that would be the fifth game if it goes five -- that's the championship game, so they'd get to see that.
Leyland said the Tigers "accomplished one leg of the journey" Friday night when they won the AL Central and earned a spot in the postseason.
"I don't know that I believe in home-field advantage in baseball," he said, "but I do believe that when you have the type of fans we have, they deserve to see that fifth game if we can get it for them."
Alburquerque's lack of work worrying Leyland
OAKLAND -- Al Alburquerque hasn't pitched since Sept. 14 because of a right quad injury, and manager Jim Leyland said he is concerned about the reliever's lingering injury and lack of work as he establishes his postseason roster.
"I'm hoping that he's able to pitch in Kansas City," Leyland said before Sunday's game against the A's. "At some point you've got to get out there. You can't keep saying, 'Well, we've got time, we've got time.' We don't have that much time in his situation."
Alburquerque made just three appearances this month without allowing a run. He appeared in five games in July and three in August, all scoreless outings. For the season, he's 6-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 37 games.
The question, Leyland said, is whether Alburquerque's quad will be healthy enough for him to pitch effectively in the postseason.
"That's pretty simple really," Leyland said. "There's no secret to it. I certainly hope it is because, as you know, he's been very huge for us this year. He's done a tremendous job. We like him. But how much rust is going to be on, how much rust is going to be off? I don't know. I'm not smart enough to know that. I'm hoping that he can pitch in Kansas City one of these next couple days and get some work in on the final homestand."
Perry's postseason role yet to be defined
OAKLAND -- While the Tigers finish up their road trip Tuesday and Wednesday in Kansas City, team officials will be meeting with manager Jim Leyland and the coaching staff to discuss, among other things, the postseason roster. Among the topics that are likely to come up is Ryan Perry, who could play a critical role in the Tigers bullpen.
Without Perry, the Tigers would not have survived Al Alburquerque's concussion DL stint as well as they did. When Perry is on his game, he's a highly valued seventh-inning arm capable of strikeouts and groundouts. When he's a little off, he can have struggles like he did Saturday, when a two-out, none-on entrance turned into two insurance runs that ended up being the difference in the game against the A's.
Leyland sounded Sunday like he wasn't making much of Saturday's outing, coming off a division-clincher the previous night. Take away that performance, and Perry had held opponents to two runs on nine hits over 9 2/3 innings since his return from Triple-A Toledo in mid-August.
Alburquerque's health could play a big role in Perry's potential postseason usage. Even if Alburquerque pitches in the Kansas City series as planned, that leaves him about a week to get his arm back in midseason form. Alburquerque clearly plays an important role if he's healthy, but he's valuable enough that Perry could be insurance.
Usage might have been one issue that played into Perry's rough outing Saturday. It was just his fifth appearance since Sept. 1, and at 19 pitches, it was nearly twice as long as any of those previous four outings. He threw 24 pitches over his previous four appearances combined.
Leyland has not talked much about the decisions facing the Tigers in choosing a postseason bullpen. He met with pitching coach Jeff Jones on Sunday morning to try to map out their rotation plans, but he won't discuss a lot with the media this week for fear of tipping off the throng of advance scouts following the team.
Leyland made no secret, though, they have decisions to make.
"We're sniffing around," Leyland said.
Magglio enjoying another strong September
OAKLAND -- The last time Magglio Ordonez had a batting streak like this was early in the 2009 season. Of course, the last time he was on a hitting tear like this, he was still a regular.
Yet even through platoon play, Ordonez is showing signs of peaking late. His hitting streak reached 14 games Saturday with his second three-hit game of September. Unlike his Sept. 1 game, all three hits were singles, but they were well-hit ground balls through the middle. Ordonez said after the game he's seeing the ball well, but didn't get into the hitting streak.
Add up the hits, and his September average is up to .464 (13-for-28), with an average of .291 since the All-Star break. It's fairly similar to his last healthy September and October, when he batted .439 (43-for-98) down the stretch in 2009. He had a higher slugging percentage that month, but he was also playing regularly.
At this point, Ordonez appears just about certain to make the postseason roster. If there was a question, it might be how often he starts in the Division Series, and who the Tigers would mix in, whether Andy Dirks or Don Kelly.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Eric Gilmore is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.