Jim Leyland has a game plan for Cleveland’s Justin Masterson.
When the Tigers face the Indians right-hander Wednesday afternoon, the Tigers manager will stuff his lineup with almost every left-handed hitter he can dredge up.
It’s the same kind of percentage play teams make if they can when the Tigers right-handers Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer.
Masterson allows left-handers a .276 batting average but holds right-handers to a .215 average.
A side benefit is Leyland will be able to give a couple of his regulars a two-day break from playing. Detroit has a day off Thursday.
Delmon Young will sit out his first game since coming to Detroit, and Jhonny Peralta will get an infrequent breaks.
Will Rhymes will start at second base, and recently hot Ramon Santiago will play short. Wilson Betemit will start at third base, and Don Kelly will be in the outfield with Andy Dirks. All hit left-handed or are switch hitters.
Alex Avila won’t get a day off until Detroit hosts Minnesota this weekend. Giving Avila Friday off would allow him to go two consecutive days without playing, too.
“We might not score a run,” Leyland said, “but we will have some energy. Whether we win or lose, we will have some energy. They’ll be battling their fannies off.”
Other regulars who will be playing include Austin Jackson and switch hitting Victor Martinez. Miguel Cabrera won’t get a day off, though.
“I like my job too much for that,” Leyland said with a laugh.
One who won’t be playing: switch-hitting Carlos Guillen.
The Tigers’ regular lineup did its job Tuesday, powering the team to a 10-1 win over the Indians. Detroit has taken the first two games of the series to increase its division lead to eight games over the White Sox, 8 1/2 games over the Indians.
Aside from the left-handed-leaning lineup, the Tigers will have something else going for them Wednesday: ace Justin Verlander will make the start.
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