–C Alex Avila is swinging a hot bat again. Avila had a two-run double and an RBI single in Detroit’s 14-0 win over Cleveland. The first hit was textbook, putting a nice easy swing on a 1-2 pitch and swatting it down the left field line to drive in two runs. His single also came on a 1-2 pitch, a strong grounder up the middle. “I’ve been excited since Sept. 1,” he said of anticipating the postseason. “I can’t wait.”
–RHP Doug Fister confirmed his status as Detroit’s No. 2 postseason starter with eight innings of three-hit, shutout ball. Fister struck out nine in his final regular season start and is now 8-1 since being traded from Seattle to Detroit. “He’s the total package,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s been on fire for us.” Fister has won seven straight decisions with a 0.65 ERA during his streak. “He throws so many strikes,” C Alex Avila said. “He can throw any pitch in any count. That makes it easy.”
–1B Miguel Cabrera boosted his batting average to .343 with three hits. He roped a single to right-center in the second, drilled an RBI single to left center in the three-run third and singled sharply to left-center following LF Delmon Young’s three-run home run in the eighth. Cabrera showed no evidence of the dizziness that prompted his removal from Sunday’s game after the seventh inning.
–DH Victor Martinez smoked two doubles, driving in one run, as he and his teammates tuned up for postseason play. “In the middle of the season, sometimes it feels like the season is never going to end. But now we’ve got two games to go — in the regular season — and I’m excited,” he said. He again was pitched to in a situation where he could have been walked — man on second and two out in the fifth — and he lined a 2-1 pitch into the right field corner for an RBI double.
–LF Delmon Young has been slumping recently, but he perked up with a pair of hits, one a three-run home run. Young grounded a single through the hole to left to keep the three-run third going, and his home run came on the first pitch thrown by RHP Josh Judy in the midst of an eight-run eighth.
–2B Will Rhymes started because manager Jim Leyland wanted to give SS Jhonny Peralta a day off, and Rhymes rewarded his skipper with a pair of singles. Outfielders play him extremely shallow because of his slight stature; even so, his bid to hit one over the head of RF Kosuke Fukudome died in the outfielder’s glove to end the eighth. Rhymes led off because CF Austin Jackson was given a game off. His single began the three-run third, and his single in the eighth contributed to that eight-run inning. “He deserves to play, too,” manager Jim Leyland said.
–SS Jhonny Peralta did not start against Cleveland, manager Jim Leyland giving him a break prior to the playoffs. SS Ramon Santiago started at short with Peralta, who Sunday hit his 20th home run of the season, expected to return to the starting lineup Tuesday night.
–CF Austin Jackson was not in the starting lineup in the opener of Detroit’s series with Cleveland. Jackson has been in a slump the last two weeks, which hasn’t affected is defense at all. Jackson did have two hits Sunday, but manager Jim Leyland is giving all his regulars at day off the last week of the season. Jackson was replaced in center by Andy Dirks.
–2B Carlos Guillen probably won’t be on Detroit’s AL Division Series playoff roster due to his right calf strain. “It’s very unlikely Carlos will be ready for the first round,” manager Jim Leyland said. “And I’m only saying the first round. That’s not to say he couldn’t be added at some point.” Guillen hasn’t played since coming out of a Sept. 18 game.
–3B Wilson Betemit is giving manager Jim Leyland increasing cause for concern. Betemit has been out of action since suffering a left knee sprain sliding into home Sept. 16. Leyland had said all weekend that Betemit was scheduled to play the next day. On Monday, the tune changed. “He’s not right,” a tight-lipped Leyland said. “That’s not too good. Next question.”
BY THE NUMBERS
0.65 — ERA of RHP Doug Fister during his ongoing seven-game winning streak. He is 8-1 since being traded from Seattle to Detroit.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“I hope he wins it — but we’re not going to trade him if he doesn’t.” — Manager Jim Leyland, on 1B Miguel Cabrera challenging for the AL batting crown.
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