DETROIT — With his team having scored six runs in three games and hitting .225, Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland shuffled his lineup by dropping slumping leadoff hitter Austin Jackson to eighth, a move that put two prominent hitters — Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera — in unfamiliar spots for Wednesday night’s Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
“We had to do something,” Leyland said before his team took to the Comerica Park field against the Boston Red Sox. “It’s a little bit of a shocker, but hey, you know, postseason. Let’s try something. I’m not afraid to try something.”
Hunter, 37, slid into the leadoff spot, where he hasn’t hit since 2000, when he was with the Minnesota Twins. Cabrera, who won the Triple Crown in 2002, hit second, a spot he had occupied just twice in his career — in 2004, when he was 21 and playing for the Florida Marlins. Essentially, Leyland bumped everyone else up one spot — Prince Fielder from cleanup to third, Victor Martinez from fifth to cleanup — and inserted Jose Iglesias to play shortstop and bat ninth.
“We’ve got to try to get on the board somehow,” Leyland said. “And we know we live with extra-base hits and home runs because there’s not much speed [at the top of the order]. But the speed that was up there was not getting on base.”
The moves paid off in Detroit's series-tying 7-3 win. Jackson drew a bases-loaded walk off Jake Peavy for the first run of Detroit’s five-run second inning, Hunter had a two-run double and Cabrera drove in two runs.
Jackson had entered play Wednesday just 1 for 13 with five strikeouts and one walk in the first three games of the ALCS and just 3 for 33 (.091) in the Tigers’ eight postseason games. But Leyland didn’t bench Jackson altogether because Jackson was 9 for 28 (.321) with two triples and a homer against Peavy, Boston’s Game 4 starter.
“I think I’m actually doing Austin Jackson a favor,” Leyland said, and he mentioned that hitting eighth could take some of the glare off his struggles. “He’s getting kicked around pretty good right now.” Red Sox Manager John Farrell, whose team hit an abysmal .133 with 43 strikeouts in 90 at-bats over the first three games — yet still won twice — largely kept his normal lineup for Game 4, inserting Daniel Nava in place of Jonny Gomes in left field. Nava entered the game 5 for 12 against Tigers starter Doug Fister.
Don Baylor is returning to the Los Angeles Angels to be their hitting coach.
The Angels hired Baylor to replace Jim Eppard, who wasn’t retained by Manager Mike Scioscia.
Baylor, 64, had been Arizona’s hitting coach for the past three years. . . .
The Chicago White Sox acquired two minor league players and cash from Tampa Bay to complete the deal that sent reliever Jesse Crain to the Rays in July. The White Sox picked up left-handed pitching prospect Sean Bierman and infielder Ben Kline, who both played at Class A this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.