Tigers, Red Sox clash in possible playoff preview

It's unclear whether or not Miguel Cabrera will be in the lineup on Monday when the Detroit Tigers open a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox in a potential playoff preview at Fenway Park.

Detroit leads the American League Central by 7 1/2 games, while the Red Sox top the East by 5 1/2 games. Boston also holds 1 1/2-game edge on the Tigers for the best record in the AL.

"I wouldn't say (this series is) a measuring stick," added Red Sox manager John Farrell. "This is another series that we'll prepare for ... and continue our process and go out and continue to execute hopefully the way we have."

The Tigers, though, had to get by this weekend without Cabrera, who was forced from Friday's win over Cleveland with pain in his abdomen. Detroit is actually 8-1 without the reigning Triple Crown winner this season, but suffered their first loss without him on Sunday, falling to the Indians, 4-0.

"He was moving around a little bit today, smiling, came down on the bench a little bit," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after Sunday's game. "He got treated all day. I can't tell you when he'll play. I don't really know the answer to that."

With or without Cabrera, the Tigers will turn to righty Doug Fister, who has just one win in his last five starts. Fister lost to Oakland on Wednesday, as he was pounded for seven runs and 13 hits in five innings to fall to 11-7 on the year, while ballooning his ERA to 3.81.

Fister has also struggled against the Red Sox in his career, posting a 1-4 mark with a 5.20 ERA in seven starts.

Boston, meanwhile, will counter with right-hander John Lackey, who is 1-5 in eight outings since the All-Star break. He actually hasn't been that bad, though, as the Red Sox have provided him with zero run support in half of those outings.

Lackey, who has pitched into the seventh inning in his last 14 starts, is 8-11 on the year with a 3.19 ERA.

"I would like to have more wins than I have right now, but that's not the goal," Lackey said. "The goal is for the team to win games."

Boston won plenty this weekend, as it swept a three-game set from the Chicago White Sox and enters this series having won seven of eight. David Ortiz had three RBI in Sunday's 7-6 win and is 5-for-9 with six RBI following an 0- for-23 drought.

Ortiz is also two hits shy of 2,000 for his career.

Detroit has won three of four from the Red Sox this season, but has lost nine of 12 at Fenway since the start of the 2010 season.