DETROIT - With runs at a premium and with his team needing a win to avoid being pushed to the brink in the American League Championship Series, Tigers manager Jim Leyland will make a significant lineup change for tonight's Game 4 at Comerica Park.
Austin Jackson, who hit lead off in all 127 regular season games he started and in each of the Tigers' eight playoff games to date, will drop to the eighth spot in the order.
"You don't always agree with me, and I don't always agree with you," said Leyland. "But I think this is one thing we both agree on, we had to do something. I thought we had to shake it up a little bit. I think most of the writers and the broadcasters and the media people agree that we had to do something."
Jackson's struggled badly in the postseason. He's 3-for-33 (.091) with just one extra base hit, a double, and two walks. His most ugly statistic is his 18 strikeouts, which include five in 13 at-bats against the Red Sox.
Asked how he balanced making changes he felt were necessary with continuing to go with the players who got him this far, Leyland unequivocally threw his support behind his struggling centerfielder.
"I'm certainly not turning my back on Austin Jackson, he's in the lineup," said Leyland. "I think I need him in there for Fister. I think down in the bottom of the lineup it could help us. We've got speed with Iglesias, Jackson and Infante. Is it going to help? I can't answer that."
Jose Iglesias will draw back into the lineup at shortstop, pushing Jhonny Peralta out to left field.
Leyland is looking for his best defensive alignment behind starter Doug Fister, a noted sinkerball pitcher who relies on groundball outs and double plays.