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Ausmus shuffles order in effort to generate offense

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Tigers' J.D. Martinez

Detroit — With their offense gasping of late against too many pitchers, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus realigned his batting order ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Oakland A’s at Comerica Park.

He moved J.D. Martinez to the No. 2 spot and dropped Justin Upton to Martinez’s old No. 5 slot.

Ian Kinsler (leadoff), Miguel Cabrera (No. 3), and Victor Martinez (cleanup) were unchanged. Nick Castellanos was to bat sixth, followed by Jose Iglesias, catcher Bobby Wilson, and Anthony Gose.

“They’re not huge changes, but we’ll see if we can change our fortunes to good fortunes, said Tiger manager Brad Ausmus, whose offense has been in a serious tumble the past two weeks that has seen them, apart from Monday night’s breakout against the A’s, typically scrounge for even minimal runs.

“Quite frankly, I’m throwing a blind dart, hoping we’ll get lucky. I didn’t want to put together an irrational lineup – Victor at leadoff and Miggy hitting eighth. But we just haven’t been clicking. Sometimes when you’re not clicking you make a change.”

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J.D. Martinez has had his own problems of late and was on a 3-for-19 (.158) tailspin since the Tigers began a home stand last Friday. Upton, too, has had a generally frightful April,  batting .208, with a league-leading 32 strikeouts. He is hitting .133 (2-for-15) since Friday.

The Tigers might have picked a more reassuring pitcher than Wednesday’s starter, Sonny Gray, the A’s ace whom Ausmus acknowledged was “one of the best pitchers in baseball.”

Still, at least one of the hitters affected Wednesday by a lineup switch saw Ausmus’ shuffle as a potential boost.

“Rearrange the pieces and see what happens,” J.D. Martinez said. “Nobody likes to lose.

“I know I’m close,” said Martinez, who’s batting .278, with two home runs, after a hot start gave way to a chilly past two weeks. “I feel close.”

Order of things

Ausmus said moving Iglesias to the No. 2 spot, rather than J.D. Martinez, had been “discussed” but ultimately didn’t add up.

“You really want your best five hitters in the top five spots,” the Tigers manager said, explaining that Iglesias, who was hitting .279 Wednesday, had been “scuffling” of late.

Ausmus also said Iglesias, who was slotted seventh Wednesday ahead of Wilson and Gose, seems often to fit best at the No. 9 spot, as a kind of second leadoff batter ahead of the order turning over.

“Situationally,” Ausmus said, conceding the batting order is more of a focal point for fans than for teams or opponents, “it shouldn’t make much of a difference” how the sequence, within reason, is arranged.

lynn.henning@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Lynn_Henning

A'S LINEUP

1. Coco Crisp, CF

2. Chris Coghlan, 3B

3. Josh Reddick, RF

4. Khris Davis, LF

5. Jed Lowrie, 2B

6. Billy Butler, DH

7. Yonder Alonso, 1B

8. Josh Phegley, C

9. Marcus Semien, SS

Sonny Gray, SP

TIGERS LINEUP

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. J.D. Martinez, RF

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Victor Martinez, DH

5. Justin Upton, LF

6. Nick Castellanos, 3B

7. Jose Iglesias, SS

8. Bobby Wilson, C

9. Anthony Gose, CF

Justin Verlander, SP

A’s at Tigers

First pitch: 1:10 today, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/ 97.1

Scouting report

RHP Chris Bassitt (0-1, 4.44), A’s: Was a big prize that made possible the White Sox’s trade in 2014 for Jeff Samardzija. Tends to get his share of ground balls with a nice sinker.

RHP Anibal Sanchez (2-2, 7.00), Tigers: Big start for Sanchez, who didn’t seem to know what was going on in his last ugly outing, against the Indians. Needs to re-establish some status.