BOSTON -- Wednesday's Tigers lineup shuffle to move Brennan Boesch up to the fifth spot behind Prince Fielder and Delmon Young down to sixth was a move designed to get another left-handed bat in the middle of the order against Red Sox starter Aaron Cook, who entered his start giving up a .309 batting average to lefties this year.
Whether the Tigers make it a longer-term lineup decision is a matter that could be coming up shortly.
"I've been contemplating this for a little bit," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said before the game. "I'm going to think about it [on the off-day Thursday], maybe have a little bit of a different look, see what it looks like. Gotta try something."
It would put left-handed hitters back-to-back in the order, which could make it easier for an opponent to bring in a left-handed reliever to face Prince Fielder. But then, Young's .278 average and .775 OPS off lefties -- the average a steep drop from last year -- hasn't stopped opponents from doing that anyway.
Boesch batted .295 in July with seven doubles, four homers, 17 RBIs and an .828 OPS. All of those numbers were his best for any month so far this season.
"I thought he got in a pretty good groove for a while," Leyland said. "I think he was laying off pitches a little bit better, being a little more selective, and I think it paid some dividends for him. Hopefully, he can do that the last two months. That would be big for us, obviously."
Verlander struggling with his fastball command
BOSTON -- Justin Verlander's streak of consecutive starts lasting at least six innings was washed out Tuesday night, and he took the classy route by saying he'll just have to start a new one. But as he also pointed out, the rain was far from his only problem.
He was far more worried about his wild fastball than he was about the wild weather.
"The last couple starts, I've just been a bit inconsistent," Verlander said. "Gotta work to get it back. I have some work to do."
Verlander threw 54 fastballs Tuesday night, with 34 going for strikes, according to data from MLB.com's Gameday application. He got nine swings and misses and 17 called strikes.
It was a lower strike percentage than he had going last Thursday in Cleveland, where he threw 33 out of 44 fastballs for strikes and got seven swings and misses.
For the season, Verlander is throwing just over two-thirds of his fastballs for strikes at 67.9 percent, according to data from STATS.
The numbers seem to back what has been observed -- that Verlander was missing on his location with his fastball. Part of that, Verlander suggested, might have been the result of a slick mound, causing his foot to slip more than a few times and sending his fastball sailing a bit. But he seemed to suggest it was more than that.
"Once you get out to your maximum stride length, if you slide any, obviously you kind of think about it in your head," Verlander said. "It's going to be hard for your body to get back over the top. I kind of feel like that's what was happening. There was only two or three pitches that I actually felt my foot slide, but looking back at it, I know if it was happening then, it was probably happening a little bit on every pitch -- not to that extreme, but you know if you're running it up there 99, 100 [mph], it's a pretty small margin of error to get the right release point. But I need to make the adjustment quicker, bottom line."
Tigers didn't file protest over rain-shortened ruling
BOSTON -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland and spokespersons for the Tigers and Major League Baseball both said Wednesday the team filed no formal complaint with MLB over the umpire's decisions on Tuesday night's rain-shortened game. That followed an ESPN Boston report saying a complaint was filed over crew chief Jerry Layne's decision to start the game and the timing to stop the game with the bases loaded for the Tigers in the sixth inning, citing a Tigers official.
That doesn't mean they were happy, but they didn't protest.
"We never protested the game," Leyland said. "The umpire made a decision, you respect it and move on. He waited and waited a long time after the delay. Could we have gotten one more out in or a home run? I don't know. But we didn't protest any game.
"Jerry Layne was absolutely tremendous. He kept us posted. He knocked on this door and said, 'It's supposed to get a little worse, but I'm going to wait. I'm going to wait until it's time. ... If it's not better by 11:15, I'm going to bang it.' That's all that was ever said."
The Tigers were also under the impression well before the game that the game would start on time, even if there was light rain, catcher Alex Avila said. So whether or not the Tigers agreed, they were kept up to date on the plan.
"There's not many times we've started a game in the rain," Avila said.
Avila said the field conditions were "pretty nasty" by the third inning. The grounds crew did what they could, but they were fighting a losing battle.
As for the decision to call it in the sixth with the bases loaded, Avila said, "It's unfortunate and disappointing."
Dirks breaks out of slump at Triple-A with homer
BOSTON -- Andy Dirks broke out of an 0-for-16 slump at Triple-A Toledo with a solo homer in a two-hit effort Tuesday afternoon. Still, the Tigers believe he still has some work to do on his rehab assignment to get his timing back with his swing.
The Tigers still expect Dirks to be back in time to help them down the stretch, but it won't be right away.
After a 4-for-13 start to his rehab assignment, Dirks went four consecutive games without a hit, capped by an 0-for-6, two-strikeout performance Monday against Louisville. Even with Tuesday's effort, he entered the Mud Hens' off-day Wednesday batting .182 (6-for-33) on his rehab assignment.
Keep in mind, Dirks missed close to two months with an Achilles injury that was originally expected to be a day-to-day injury.
A look at the replay from Tuesday's game showed Austin Jackson seemed to slide in ahead of the tag at second base on his fifth-inning steal attempt. But Leyland said the way he slid didn't help his case. "When you're stealing a base, you shouldn't [do a] pop-up slide," Leyland said. "When you [do a] pop-up slide, that happens a lot."