Tigers Feel Young's Absence in Series Opener
Delmon Young
Sports Xchange MLB Reports
Posted Oct 9, 2011


Delmon Young's absence from the Tigers' roster for the AL Championship Series against the Rangers has ramifications up and down the Detroit lineup. That was obvious in Saturday night's opener, in which the Tigers managed just two runs and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Tigers sorely miss Young's bat

Young was taken off the 25-man roster because of a left oblique muscle injury he sustained in the fifth game of the AL Division Series against the Yankees.

Jim Leyland consulted with the team medical staff and general manager Dave Dombrowski, deciding that going through the series a player short while waiting for a Young return that might not happen was a handicap the club couldn't afford.

"Without Young, it makes it a whole different ballgame," Leyland said. "But there's no sense worrying about it. The more you make of it, the more you build in an excuse for your team. We don't play like that. I don't like it, but I'm not worried about it."

By not including Young on the roster for this round, Detroit left open the option of adding him for the World Series -- if the club squeezes by Texas and if the left fielder and No. 3 hitter is sufficiently healed to play by that time. According to baseball rules, players replaced on a roster while a series is being played are automatically ruled out for the next series as well.

"It's just not right," Leyland said of Young's sore oblique. "We thought he was going to be all right. He hit fine. Then it stiffened up and was killing him when he raised his arm.

"With an oblique, you just don't know. I've lived with those for a long time. Hopefully, if we're fortunate to move on, he'll be ready -- but I don't even know that. I've never believed there was a minor oblique (injury)."

Young's absence was felt in Detroit's 3-2 loss to Texas on Saturday in the ALCS opener.

"Sure, you're going to feel Young's absence in the lineup," Leyland said. "We were hoping (Ryan) Raburn would get on somehow (in the ninth) because hitting (Miguel) Cabrera third could have worked out pretty darn good if Raburn gets on. We miss that bat in there, no question about it. But no excuses."

Instead of plugging veteran Magglio Ordonez back into the No. 3 spot he'd held down much of his time with Detroit, Leyland opted to move Cabrera and Victor Martinez up a notch to third and fourth, place Ordonez fifth, Alex Avila sixth and Jhonny Peralta seventh.

Raburn replaced Young in left field, was placed second in the batting order and is likely to see a lot of action. Texas is going mostly with left-handed starters against Detroit.

"Not really what I wanted to do," Leyland said, "but I don't have any choice. Against a right-hander, we'll probably have a left-hander hitting second."

In the first inning, Detroit loaded the bases with one out. But instead of Martinez coming up, it was Ordonez, who grounded into an inning-ending double play.

"The first inning for us was the key," Leyland said. "We had a chance to get on the board right away. You've got to give their pitchers credit, we didn't get anything out of it."

Rather than activate veteran Carlos Guillen, whose calf is still bothering him, Detroit replaced Young on the roster with infielder Danny Worth.

In one sense, it isn't Raburn replacing Young, it's Ramon Santiago. Raburn would have played second against lefties if Young had been available. Now the second baseman will be the switch-hitting Santiago.

Neither one is Young, however.

"He stretched out our lineup pretty good," Leyland said. "But you know what? This is what teams are all about. This is why you play guys. This is why you try to keep guys sharp. This is a time for (Brandon) Inge, (Ryan) Raburn and those guys to step up."

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Justin Verlander started his second straight series opener and encountered problems with rain for the second straight time. Manager Jim Leyland decided not to bring Verlander back after the Tigers' ace sat through two rain delays totaling 110 minutes. Verlander took the loss after allowing three runs in four innings.

"When the original (rain delay) hit, he was actually coming back out," Leyland said. "When the second one came, that was a no-brainer."

Verlander said, "I just didn't have it. My location wasn't very good at all. Off-speed stuff wasn't great. The funny thing is, I went and threw during the first rain delay and thought I figured something out that was creating problems. I felt great and was excited to back out there and implement that, but never got the opportunity."

Verlander had thrown 82 pitches and was seen mouthing, "I'm good" to Leyland in the dugout during the first delay. He also appeared to be a little unsettled because his outside pitches were deemed just out of the strike zone. He wound up coming inside with a fastball that RF Nelson Cruz hit for the game-deciding home run.

"His control was just not good," Leyland said. "He didn't really have his curveball going for strikes; probably trying to overthrow it a little bit."

RHP Rick Porcello replaced Verlander and threw two shutout innings.

As for how Verlander's curtailed start and Porcello's relief appearance will affect his pitching plans, Leyland said would meet with his coaches before going back to the hotel. "We started to map a couple things out during the one rain delay, but we don't have anything for you at this time," he said. "Certainly there's no tricks. We're not trying to hide anything."

--LF Delmon Young, who came out of Thursday's win at New York due to a strained left oblique, was removed from Detroit's roster for the second round of the league playoffs. "It's just not right," manager Jim Leyland said of Young's side muscle. "We thought he was going to be all right. He hit fine. Then it stiffened up, and it was killing him when he raised his arm. With an oblique, you just don't know. I've lived with those for a long time. Hopefully, if we're fortunate to move on, he'll be ready -- but I don't even know that. I've never believed there was a minor oblique (injury)."

Young hit Friday but was unable to raise his arm after a short workout was over.

"It's a loss for us," GM Dave Dombrowski said, "but I think we're in a position with Ryan Raburn stepping in, the way he can swing the bat, and we're going to face a lot of left-handed pitching. You don't want to lose a guy like Delmon Young, but we've been a very resilient club all season long, and I think Ryan Raburn will step up and do a very good job for us."

--LF Ryan Raburn stepped in for LF Delmon Young and showed he won't be a bust as the nominal replacement. Raburn was slotted second in the lineup and singled his first time up, following it with two walks. He did strike out his last two turns at bat, but a continuation of his typically hot second half would assure the Tigers won't experience a significant drop-off in left field. Raburn will continue to start against Texas' lefties.

--RHP Rick Porcello, the scheduled Game 4 starter, pitched two innings in relief of RHP Justin Verlander following two rain delays totaling 110 minutes. Porcello faced six batters and got them all out in what amounted to a tune-up for his scheduled start Wednesday at Comerica Park. He originally was announced by Jim Leyland as the starter for two games in the ALCS, but after RHP Max Scherzer assured the Detroit manager he was fine to start Sunday's Game 2, Leyland changed his mind and said Scherzer would start twice and Porcello only once. Scherzer pitched in relief Thursday against the Yankees.

--2B Ramon Santiago becomes the de facto sub for LF Delmon Young, against at least left-handed pitching. LF Ryan Raburn likely would have played second base against the left-handed Texas starters, but he now shifts to left, with Santiago taking over at second. The numbers suggest this might not be successful, however, as Santiago has a much higher batting average against right-handers. He entered the game 1-for-13 (.077) in his career against current Rangers lefties, but he went 2-for-2 against LHP C.J. Wilson and finished the night 3-for-4.

--INF Danny Worth was added to Detroit's AL Championship Series roster, replacing injured LF Delmon Young. "He can pinch-run," manager Jim Leyland said. "He can play defense. I might put him in there against a lefty if somebody doesn't do something. He hits lefties all right. Why not? Sometimes those are the greatest stories. Sometimes they work out. Danny Worth, who knows, he might get a big hit to win a game. I don't know."

--RHP Max Scherzer will start Game 2 of the AL Championship Series at Texas. Manager Jim Leyland originally had RHP Rick Porcello pitching the second and sixth games but changed to Scherzer after they talked. Scherzer threw 32 pitches in relief Thursday in Game 5 of the AL Division Series on three days' rest after making the start in Game 2. He will start Sunday on two days' rest following his relief appearance.

"So that's the way we're going," Leyland said. "(RHP Justin) Verlander, Scherzer, (RHP Doug) Fister in the first three. I trust Max Scherzer with my life. "I talked to him long about this (Friday). First of all, Max Scherzer's a smart guy. He's not going to do anything to jeopardize his arm. He's not going to do anything to jeopardize our team's chances, so he convinced me that he was absolutely fine and raring and ready to go. I wasn't trying to throw anybody off. I probably should not have said that (Porcello was starting twice) at the press conference. That's the way we were going to go, but when Max swore that he was fine and would be fine and everything, then I had no other choice. I've got to pitch him."

--2B Carlos Guillen wasn't added to Detroit's roster for the second round of the playoffs because his bad calf is still bothering him. "We're hoping that, if we're fortunate enough to get to the World Series, he's a possibility because of pinch-hitting and stuff like that, if he's OK," manager Jim Leyland said. "We were shooting for that ever since this happened. We knew he wasn't going to be ready for this series. We were pretty sure." Guillen has been out of action since straining his right calf Sept. 18 at Oakland. He's being sent to the instructional league to play some games. "He's not ready, but he's going to play, I think, I want to say Monday, and he's going to play all week," Leyland said. "He's just getting ready to play."

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- Postseason series started by RHP Justin Verlander that were interrupted by rain. Verlander opened at New York in the AL Division Series and lasted just an inning before rain suspended the game. He did not return when play resumed the next day. He lasted four innings (82 pitches) in the AL Championship Series opener at Texas.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I just didn't have it. My location wasn't very good at all. Off-speed stuff wasn't great. The funny thing is, I went and threw during the first rain delay and thought I figured something out that was creating problems. I felt great and was excited to back out there and implement that, but never got the opportunity." -- RHP Justin Verlander, on his rain-shortened start in the AL Championship Series opener at Texas. He pitched the first four innings, allowing all three runs Texas scored, but was not permitted to come out after two rain delays totaling 110 minutes.


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