The Tigers' Jhonny Peralta watches his three-run home run fly during the fifth inning Tuesday. Peralta will start Thursday, though where isn't exactly certain. (Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News)
Detroit — Jim Leyland still was fiddling with his Game 5 lineup in his hotel room Wednesday evening, and he wasn’t ready to offer any solid plans to the media.
But there are two certainties:
* Miguel Cabrera will play third base;
* And Jhonny Peralta will play – though he didn’t specify where.
The last-minute pondering is understandable, since Leyland, the Tigers manager, didn’t know until Wednesday afternoon his team would be facing A’s rookie Sonny Gray for the second time this series.
“I’m not really sure what my lineup’s gonna be, just yet,” Leyland said.
He’s started Peralta in left the two games he’s been in the lineup, and Jose Iglesias has been at shortstop all four games.
But Iglesias isn’t hitting much, and Peralta hasn’t started in left at vast O.co Coliseum there — and was slow getting to a Coco Crisp gapper in Detroit in Game 4, turning a typical double into a triple. So a switch, theoretically, could be in order. Still, Leyland talked about the difference between playing left in Oakland and at Comerica Park.
“Left field is left field, there’s a big difference in a lot of ballparks,” he said. “There’s a lot of foul ground here. It does shorten up a little bit once you get to the outfield.
“It shouldn’t be a problem.”
Leyland, it’s worth noting, also was asked about Austin Jackson, who has 10 strikeouts in the series. Like the rest of the lineup, Leyland wouldn’t commit to Jackson’s place in it — at leadoff, or at all.
Rays' Maddon impresses Leyland
Leyland was mighty impressed with Rays manager Joe Maddon’s maneuvering Tuesday night — even though the Rays were eliminated by the Red Sox.
Maddon went to his bullpen in the second inning, and ended up using nine pitchers.
“I think he did a tremendous job mixing his pitchers in and out,” Leyland said. “It was a pretty smart plan. I don’t think he wanted Boston to see the same pitcher very much.
“I thought it was brilliant.”
It’s not that unusual to see interesting uses of the bullpen this time of year — especially in elimination games. There, as they say, is no tomorrow.
“I used a guy that had (21) wins out of the bullpen,” Leyland said of his Game 4 relief star, Max Scherzer. “We were desperate.
“You do whatever it takes.”
Around the horn
As for his bullpen for Game 5 of the American League Division Series, Leyland said Scherzer would not be available again in relief.
Leyland also ruled out Anibal Sanchez from appearing out of the bullpen.
… Leyland on Gray, the 23-year-old right-hander who shut down the Tigers in Game 2: “His poise and everything, really, was unbelievable. He didn’t ruffle at all. Just a really, really good-looking young pitcher.
… The Tigers will counter with Justin Verlander, who’s had his ups and downs this year, but also was brilliant in Game 2 —as well as Game 5 of last year’s ALDS. “We feel comfortable anytime Justin Verlander goes out there,” Leyland said.