OAK@DET Gm3: Leyland on exciting series start, lineup

DETROIT -- Looking for a jolt of offense, Tigers manager Jim Leyland put Jhonny Peralta into his starting lineup in left field for Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Monday. However, he has not eliminated the possibility of a start at shortstop.

The scenario was part of the discussions Leyland had with his coaches on potential lineups for the playoffs.

"We made several lineups out prior to the playoffs," Leyland said. "There was a lineup or so with him at shortstop, depending how the series goes. Certainly we're not playing him at shortstop today, so we'll have to wait and see."

ALDS

It's a bit of a shift from the Tigers' strategy leading into Peralta's return. Leyland and team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said more than once that Jose Iglesias is the shortstop now and for the future. That, of course, came before the current struggles from this offense to produce runs.

The Tigers have benefited greatly from the defense Iglesias has provided them since taking over at short. He was an acrobatic throw away from halting Oakland's rally in Game 1 ahead of Yoenis Cespedes' two-run homer. However, Iglesias entered Monday batting 1-for-15 since a fastball off his left wrist cost him a week. The lone hit was an infield single to shortstop.

If Peralta were to start at short, it would come at a defensive tradeoff. The Tigers would seem better equipped for that tradeoff behind 200-strikeout pitchers Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez than, perhaps, Doug Fister, owner of the fourth-highest ground ball/fly ball ratio in the AL this season.

For now, it's a late-game option if the Tigers opt to pinch-hit for Iglesias.

"I'm not going to start the game that way," Leyland said, "but certainly, if we happen to pinch-hit, we could bring Jhonny Peralta in at shortstop. That would be an option."

Veras 'very available' at back of Tigers' bullpen

DET@OAK Gm2: Alburquerque gets Moss swinging

DETROIT -- In Game 2 of the American League Division Series, Al Alburquerque was called upon as the Tigers'right-handed option out of the bullpen in the eighth inning, filling the regular-season role of Jose Veras.

Alburquerque didn't give up a run over his last nine appearances spanning 8 2/3 innings in the regular season, striking out 11 and walking three. He also inherited 10 runners during that stretch. and only two scored.

"He's been getting some strikeouts, and he kind of had a hot hand and that's why we went with him," manager Jim Leyland said.

Alburquerque was able to strike out two batters with runners on first and second in the eighth inning of Game 2, but he gave up two singles in the ninth inning and took the loss in the A's 1-0 victory.

Meanwhile, Veras didn't warm up in the bullpen during Game 2, but Leyland said he's still a late-innings option for future games.

"We'll be using Veras in the series," Leyland said. "Absolutely nothing wrong with him. He's 100 percent and very available."

With this year's format change in the Division Series, allowing for two days off if the series extends to five games, both teams can continue to use their best options out of the bullpen.

"It was probably good for Alburquerque to get the day off yesterday," Leyland said on Monday before Game 3.

Scherzer gives credit to A's hitters

OAK@DET Gm3: Sanchez starting Game 3 on MLB Network

DETROIT -- Although the Tigers have backed off their early suspicions that the A's were stealing signs during their four-game set in August, Oakland's manager Bob Melvin further denied any pitch-tipping happened in that series.

During those four games, the Tigers' four postseason starters gave up 22 runs in 20 innings, and the 34 runs posted by the Athletics in that set are the most the Tigers have allowed in any four-game stretch since June 2011.

"Anytime there's a number of guys on second base, you have the ability to steal some signs," Melvin said. "But it didn't happen in that series. We just had our best offensive series of the year. Against these guys, you wouldn't have expected that. But we just had a lot of momentum once we score a bunch of runs the first game."

Max Scherzer, chased after five innings with five earned runs on eight hits in the finale of that series, laughed when he was asked if A's hitters had a sense of what was coming.

"It sure felt like it," Scherzer said earlier this week. "It's just one of those things. That's baseball. They're a quality team and they were hot, and they beat us."