DETROIT -- The Tigers have to spend Tuesday and Wednesday night watching the Angels and Rangers to see whether they end up with the American League's second or third seed, opening at home or on the road. Justin Verlander won't have to watch Jered Weaver while he's doing it.
With the Angels out of AL Wild Card contention, they announced Tuesday that Weaver will not pitch Wednesday as scheduled, instead shut down to avoid raising the innings count. He will not pitch in relief, according to reports. That means Verlander will win the AL ERA title, completing the pitching Triple Crown.
Verlander's seven innings with five runs allowed last Saturday bumped his ERA to 2.40, but still kept him barely ahead of Weaver, whose ERA stayed at 2.41 after his final outing a day earlier.
Verlander, who also tops the league with 24 wins and 250 strikeouts, will become the first AL pitching Triple Crown winner since Johan Santana did it for the Twins in 2006. He's the first Tiger to do it since Hal Newhouser in 1945.
Verlander has said time and again he'll reflect on the personal statistics after the season. This will give him a little more to reflect on.
Rhymes making impact with his speed
DETROIT -- Will Rhymes' Opening Day start at second base was six months ago. It only seems like years have passed.
It was still long enough for Rhymes to become a casualty of a struggling April, a Triple-A All-Star at Toledo, a September callup and a depth option off the Tigers' bench. It was also long enough for the Tigers to run through four other second basemen trying to fill his place.
After all that, there was Rhymes on Monday, racing around the bases for two singles and two runs in the Tigers' 14-0 rout of the Indians. Manager Jim Leyland put him in the lineup to use his speed against Ubaldo Jimenez, and Rhymes ended up doing much more.
Two nights earlier, he was sprinting home about as fast as he could for a game-tying run against the Orioles, a game that eventually ended in defeat.
It's not quite the role he was hoping to have when the season began. But at the end of a crazy season, he's glad to at least have a hand in a division title. No regrets.
"Obviously, I'm real happy the Tigers have had so much success," Rhymes said. "Obviously, I wish I could've been a little bigger part of it. But I really don't sit there and second guess myself.
"They had to make a move when they did. I understood that. But I'm not going to judge my baseball career over 19 games [in Detroit to start the season]. I'm not going to do that. It didn't go as well as it should for me or could have, but it is what it is, and I'm proud of going down and having a real good year in Toledo and making the All-Star team."
That Triple-A All-Star appearance wasn't exactly a goal of his entering the season. Under the circumstances, though, it was a nice recognition of his focus, not letting his struggles from Detroit follow him, as they have for so many other players who have been sent down early in a season.
"It wasn't from lack of effort or lack of training," he said. "If anything, it was probably from trying too hard. I went back and I watched some of the video, and I actually like where my swing was at. It's just one of those times where things just didn't go my way.
"It kind of is what it is this year. Come back next year and see what happens."
Betemit homers in return to Tigers' lineup
DETROIT -- Wilson Betemit's sore left knee felt well enough to return to the starting lineup for the first time in a week and a half Tuesday. His 423-foot home run in his second at-bat gave him enough time for a nice, easy trot rather than a sprint.
A day after doctors examined the swelling in Betemit's left knee, he was significantly better. It had hampered his running since his slide into home plate Friday night at Oakland, but he said it didn't affect his hitting, much to Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez's chagrin.
Betemit batted second on Tuesday, mainly in an effort to get him an extra at-bat. He's expected to start Wednesday's regular-season finale as well. As long as he feels fine, he'll be on the playoff roster when the Tigers submit it ahead of Thursday's 10 a.m. ET deadline.
Fister plans to run a pair of half-marathons
DETROIT -- To say Doug Fister hit the ground running upon his trade from Seattle would be a cliche. To say Fister has been covering a lot of ground running, before and after he got to Detroit, would be an understatement.
Unless he's starting, Fister is usually running nearly every day, something he has done since he was a teenager. He's not just logging a couple laps around the field. He's logging miles, enough of them that he has not one, but two half-marathons planned for this offseason back near his California home.
"I kind of flush the system when I run," Fister said. "It's a release for me, a stress reliever."
It's also something he's pretty good at. His 6-foot-8 frame allows him to cover a lot of ground with each stride, and he said his knees don't feel much wear and tear.
Fister said his running career in school consisted of one high school cross-country race.
"I was training with the basketball team," he said, "and the basketball coach was friends with the cross-country coach. Two runners went down and the coach asked me if I wanted to run. I went ahead and ran it and got free pizza."
Major League Baseball announced start times for the opening games of the American League Division Series, both on Friday. If the Tigers win Wednesday, coupled with a Rangers loss, they'll host the AL Wild Card winner in a 5:07 p.m. ET start at Comerica Park. Otherwise, they'll visit Yankee Stadium for an 8:37 p.m. meeting with the Bronx Bombers.
Magglio Ordonez had two hits Tuesday to extend his hitting streak to 18 games, two off his career high set in his first season in Detroit in 2005. He's batting 24-for-65 (.369) during his current streak.
Owner Mike Ilitch visited the Tigers' clubhouse prior to Tuesday's game. It was his second visit this month, following his stop last homestand for the team photo.