Though a nagging injury continues to plague star Miguel Cabrera, Anibal Sanchez's recent success versus Cleveland could provide the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers with a good chance to pull further away from the second-place Indians.
With or without Cabrera, Sanchez and the Tigers look for a seventh consecutive victory over an Indians team hoping to snap a four-game slide Saturday night at Comerica Park.
Victor Martinez went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Detroit (79-56) used a four-run third to build a 7 1/2-game lead over Cleveland with Friday's 7-2 victory that was stopped after seven innings because of rain.
The immediate concern, though, was Cabrera, who was pulled for a second straight game because of irritation in his abdominal area.
"I don't feel very good,'' said Cabrera, who leads the majors with 130 RBIs, a .358 average and is second with 43 homers. "I don't want to be specific. I don't feel 100 percent.''
Manager Jim Leyland is not sure about Cabrera's status for Saturday.
"All I can tell you is when you pull a guy out one night, normally he doesn't start the next day," he said. "I don't have any idea. I don't really know. I just have to play it by ear, see what happens.''
Even if Cabrera can't go, Cleveland has plenty of concerns in this matchup. The Tigers have won 13 of 14 against the Indians (71-63), outscoring them 91-46.
"We're all aware of what our record is,'' said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. "We don't go into any game not thinking we're going to win. The reason they're beating us is they're good.''
Martinez has been great lately, going 15 for 24 with five RBIs and no strikeouts in six games. He's hit .457 with 11 RBIs in his last 12 against the Indians.
Owner of the AL's lowest ERA, Sanchez (11-7, 2.61 ERA) is 3-0 with a 1.72 ERA in his last five versus Cleveland. He's 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA this season in two road starts versus Cleveland.
Though the right-hander has a 2.05 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break, he hopes for a better effort after allowing four runs and walking three in five innings of an 8-6 loss to Oakland on Monday.
"He was just totally out of sync for whatever reason," Leyland told the Tigers' official website. "Certainly you're allowed to have those. He's been absolutely fantastic. That's one of those games where it just wasn't his day."
Nick Swisher had two hits for the Indians, who have totaled 12 runs during a four-game losing streak at Comerica Park.
All-Star Jason Kipnis is batting .158 in his last 10 games, and is 0 for 5 with two strikeouts versus Sanchez this season.
After giving up 10 runs in eight innings to lose two straight starts, Scott Kazmir (7-6, 4.25) yielded a run and struck out eight in six innings in Cleveland's 3-1 win at Minnesota on Sunday.
"I felt fresh out there," Kazmir told the Indians' official website. "I felt like I was able to kick it up a little bit and just throw quality pitches. That was my main goal."
The left-hander allowed two runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-2, 10-inning loss to Detroit on July 8.
Martinez is 9 for 18 with a homer and three doubles lifetime against Kazmir.
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