Just like last year's rubber match, Justin Verlander will take the mound for the Tigers. The ace right-hander held the A's to just four hits and no runs in Game 2 and has now allowed just one run and struck out 33 in his last 23 postseason innings against the AL West champs.
Likely in light of their recent struggles against the former MVP and Cy Young winner, A's manager Bob Melvin has elected to go with a new lineup arrangement for Game 5:
Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie still make up the top three in the order, but things get a little different after that. Yoenis Cespedes, who has at least one hit in every game of the ALDS so far, moves up to the clean-up spot for the first time this series.
Verlander has to make it through a gauntlet of hitters attacking him from the left side after Cespedes, including second baseman Alberto Callaspo, who is making his first start of this postseason. The struggling Josh Reddick began the ALDS as the club's six-hole hitter, but has been pushed down to the No. 8 spot for Game 5.
On to the Tigers:
#Tigers lineup: Jackson 8, Hunter 9, Cabrera 5, Fielder 3, Martinez DH, Peralta 6, Avila 2, Infante 4, Kelly 7. Verlander is starting.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) October 10, 2013
For the first time in this series, manager Jim Leyland has opted to play Jhonny Peralta at shortstop over young defensive wizard Jose Iglesias. Iglesias has struggled at the plate in the series, notching just one hit in 12 at-bats, while Peralta has thrived in his brief playing time.
Some may question the move because Peralta's defense up the middle is a marked step down from Iglesias, but the Tigers may need all the offensive power they can muster against young A's right-hander Sonny Gray. The 23-year-old held Detroit to four hits and no runs over eight frames in Game 2.
Other than Don Kelly slipping into the nine spot in place of Iglesias, everything about the Tigers' batting order is the same as it's been the last two games.