10/12/2013 5:25 P.M. ET
Lineup breakdown: Tigers-Red Sox, Game 1
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
BOSTON -- A look at Saturday's lineups for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Tigers and Red Sox at Fenway Park:
Jim Leyland has said he's not concerned about veteran shortstop Jhonny Peralta being able to handle Fenway's Green Monster. And the Tigers' skipper showed it for the opener of this ALCS matchup, starting Peralta in left field while going with former Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias at shortstop. Against left-hander Jon Lester, Leyland is gaining defense at shortstop, while keeping the left-handed-hitting Don Kelly on his bench and riding Peralta's hot right-handed bat.
Peralta, 5-for-12 with a homer in the AL Division Series against Oakland, is making his sixth career start in left field -- all since Sept. 27 -- at one of the trickiest parks in baseball, complete with a scoreboard, a weird carom and, of course, a ladder.
"Carl Yastrzemski, who played the ladder, he was one hell of a man," Leyland said. "When it hits that ladder, I don't think any Red Sox, Tiger, Kansas City Royal or anyone else knows where it's going."
Austin Jackson stayed in the leadoff spot despite going 2-for-20 with 13 strikeouts in the ALDS, while Omar Infante (4-for-18) bats seventh. The ailing Miguel Cabrera is 10-for-19 with a homer, five walks and one strikeout in his career against Lester, and the Tigers are hopeful he can build on the momentum from his big two-run homer in Game 5 against the A's.
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Torii Hunter, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Jhonny Peralta, LF
7. Omar Infante, 2B
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Jose Iglesias, SS
David Ross gets his second postseason start behind the plate, sitting the switch-hitting Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and there appears to be a very good reason for it: precedent.
Lester pitched seven innings of one-run ball against the Tigers on Sept. 3 at Fenway Park, leading his team to a 2-1 victory, and Ross was his catcher. It also doesn't hurt that Ross is one of only three Red Sox players -- along with former National Leaguers Shane Victorino and Stephen Drew -- who has had more than 10 career plate appearances against Anibal Sanchez, though he's 2-for-11 with three strikeouts and one homer.
As expected, the switch-hitting Daniel Nava gets the start in left field as the right-handed-slugging Jonny Gomes sits. That may continue throughout the series. Nava posted a .322/.411/.484 slash line in 397 plate appearances against righties this season, and the entire Tigers rotation throws right-handed.
The key, though, will continue to be Jacoby Ellsbury and Victorino at the top. If they can get on base with the frequency they did in the ALDS against the Rays, going a combined 15-for-32, the Red Sox's dangerous offense can have its way.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Daniel Nava, LF
7. Stephen Drew, SS
8. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
9. David Ross, C
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.