The Detroit Tigers celebrated a division title on Monday. They may get a chance to enjoy a bit of history on Wednesday evening in their regular-season finale with the Kansas City Royals.
Detroit's Miguel Cabrera comes into the final contest of this three-game set leading the American League in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Should that hold, he would become the first Triple Crown winner in baseball since Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox in 1967. He hit .326 with 44 homers and 121 RBI that season and won his first and only AL MVP.
Cabrera is hitting .331 with 44 homers and 139 RBI. He leads the Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton by one home run and 11 RBI and the Rangers play earlier in the day on Wednesday. That could lead to Cabrera sitting out this finale if he has the Triple Crown locked up.
The Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout is second in the AL in batting at .324 and would need a monster game on Wednesday evening to challenge Cabrera in that category.
Cabrera went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs in Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
"He (Tigers manager Jim Leyland) writes the lineup. I do what he wants," Cabrera said about possibly sitting out the team's season finale on Wednesday. "He's the boss, so whatever he wants to do is what I'm going to do."
Cabrera, a lifetime .335 hitter versus Kansas City, is 4-for-11 in his career with a homer and three RBI versus Royals starter Luis Mendoza, who gets the call in this finale looking to hurl Kansas City to just its third victory in 11 games.
The right-handed Mendoza did not factor into a 5-4 loss to the Tigers last Thursday, charged with four runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and a walk while striking out six. He was coming off a solid win over the Cleveland Indians and hasn't lost since Aug. 22.
Mendoza, 28, is 8-9 with a 4.36 earned run average in 29 games this season, including 24 starts, and is 1-1 lifetime versus Detroit with a 7.57 ERA in nine games (4 starts).
Max Scherzer was slated to start tonight for the Tigers despite a right shoulder injury that has held him off the mound since Sept. 23, but he suffered an injury to his ankle on Monday on the field while celebrating the division title.
"This is a slightly twisted ankle, swollen," manager Jim Leyland told Detroit's official website. "It doesn't appear to be serious, but it is obviously serious enough that he won't pitch (Wednesday). That's the only thing I can tell you."
Going in his place will be 26-year-old righty Luis Marte in what will be his first career start.
Marte has a 3.32 ERA without a decision in 12 relief outings this season. In his two appearances during September, he allowed one hit and fanned three in 1 2/3 innings.
Marte has yielded one run in 2 1/3 frames of work lifetime versus the Royals.
Detroit is 12-5 versus the Royals this season, but has split the eight meetings in Kansas City.