6/25/2014 10:28 P.M. ET
Jackson sits against left-handed starter
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Austin Jackson has hit left-handed pitchers much better this season than he has in years past, but he's just 1-for-7 with three strikeouts for his career off Rangers southpaw Joe Saunders. Thus, he ended up being the odd man out in the Tigers outfield Wednesday, the first night for manager Brad Ausmus to mix in four outfielders for three spots.
Rajai Davis started in Jackson's usual spot in center field, with red-hot hitting J.D. Martinez moving over to left field to accommodate the return of Torii Hunter in right after more than a week off with hamstring soreness.
It was not an easy decision, Ausmus said, to make.
"I really liked the way Austin swung the bat [Tuesday] night," Ausmus said Wednesday afternoon. "He almost turned me, because he really looked good and we need to get him going. But ultimately, I decided to give Austin a day, and he will be back in tomorrow.
"But he did look really good with the bat last night."
Jackson went 2-for-4 Tuesday night with a pair of opposite-field line drives -- one into the right-field corner for a leadoff double in the fifth inning, the other for a one-out single that kept a seventh-inning rally going. Both came on first pitches from Rangers starter Colby Lewis, improving him to 12-for-27 off the veteran right-hander.
Jackson was caught trying to steal third base after the double. It was a rare steal attempt of third for him, but Ausmus liked the aggressiveness.
"The way he was swinging, his aggressiveness on the bases, I really liked the way he played the game," Ausmus said.
The matchups won out, but Ausmus cautioned that it won't often be the deciding factor unless there's an abundance of history and an obvious difference. Tuesday was a rarity in that regard.
Nor, Ausmus said, will there be a pure rotation of four guys around three spots.
"If the numbers are overwhelming, I might lean towards the matchup," Ausmus said, "but it's going to be how guys are swinging the bat. That's why I almost got turned with Jackson, because he looked so good.
"I don't think the numbers will work out like this that often. J.D. doesn't have that many numbers against a lot of guys that we'll be facing. So really, I'm just going with J.D. because he's swinging the bat well. If I never have to take him out of the lineup again, that means he's swung the bat well all year."
V. Martinez third among DHs in All-Star vote
ARLINGTON -- Victor Martinez entered Wednesday ranked third in the league in batting average. However, he entered the week ranked third among AL designated hitters in All-Star balloting.
If he's going to turn his career renaissance season into his first All-Star Game selection since 2010, he's going to need a late vote surge.
Martinez bumped his average back over the .330 mark Wednesday with an RBI double in his first at-bat, temporarily pushing him past Robinson Cano for second in the AL and leaving him trailing only Astros second baseman Jose Altuve for the league lead. He had about a 35-point edge in average on Baltimore's Nelson Cruz, who leads the DH position in balloting, and 75 points on David Ortiz, the annual pick at the spot.
Martinez's .986 OPS, meanwhile, leads all American League players at any position besides Mike Trout, including about a 40-point lead on Cruz.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Davis adjusting to replay's impact on steals
ARLINGTON -- It took a replay review for Rajai Davis to be caught stealing Tuesday for the sixth time in 27 attempts on the season. It did not take the overturned call for Davis to note the impact that replay has had on teams defending him.
What used to be quick swipe tags on him as he slid into second base are now longer tags as infielders anticipate Davis oversliding the bag. With such plays now reviewable, contact with the bag is now being scrutinized in a way it never could before. A similar situation drew attention early in the year in a nationally televised Yankees-Jays game, and prompted a clarification from Major League Baseball that such plays could be reviewed.
It was replay that revealed Davis losing touch with second base as he got up from his slide, rewarding Rougned Odor for his tag.
"Can't get away with it," Davis lamented, shaking his head. "Before, that was an automatic safe. But I've had two calls that got overturned."
It has changed the way the Tigers have had their infielders tag would-be basestealers, too.
"We've talked to our infielders about riding the tag out," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Keep the glove on the guy, just because that may happen. He may come off the bag and not even know it, and then you look at replay and then you get the call."
It's not going to lead Davis to change the way he slides, partly out of fear that an awkward motion will lead to injury. It will, however, lead him to pay special attention to keeping contact with the bag, something he's usually good at doing.
"It's not going to happen again," Davis said.
Dombrowski acknowledges search for relief help
ARLINGTON -- The Tigers need bullpen help, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski acknowledged Wednesday. However, they have their closer. That was Dombrowski's message on MLB Network Radio.
Dombrowski acknowledged Wednesday what talent evaluators from other teams have been suggesting for some time: Detroit is in the market for relief help with the Trade Deadline about five weeks away. They are not, however, seeking another closer type, believing that the improvement Joe Nathan has shown in recent weeks should carry into the second half of the season.
"We may need a little bit of help in the bullpen," Dombrowski told Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio's Inside Pitch program, "maybe middle as we go forward, or someone that can help pitch later in the game. But we're not looking for that closer and that gives you a very comfortable feeling. …
"We feel comfortable with Joba [Chamberlain] the way he's throwing later there. We have some young guys in our bullpen right now, so I think it's more somebody that feels comfortable pitching a combination of the seventh and eighth innings for us at this time."
That void could be filled by Joel Hanrahan, who continues to rehab in Florida as he prepares to take his surgically repaired elbow into game situations and an eventual Minor League assignment.
"We've got some encouraging signs with him, and he would be an ideal person if he stepped forward," Dombrowski said. "Right now, though, I could not tell if he would be ready to do that and be counted on in August and into September. I'm not saying he will not, but I can't say that he will be. He'd be the ideal type of guy for us, but if there's one thing we're looking to acquire at this point, we'd be keeping an open mind to sort of give us a little more depth in our bullpen."