Inside Pitch: Playoff Roster Taking Shape

Which players will be included on the playoff roster, and who will be left off? That's a question Jim Leyland will have to finalize over the next few days, while also trying to seal up the division crown.

Detroit's playoff roster is beginning to fall into shape.

Manager Jim Leyland has already told several players they won't be included, mostly notably pitcher Mike Maroth.

Prospects Brent Clevlen and Jordan Tata will leave after Sunday's game to participate in the Arizona Fall League. Mike Rabelo, Chad Durbin and Kevin Hooper also won't be traveling with the team. Maroth will accompany the Tigers during the playoffs, however.

Matt Stairs was acquired too late to be included on the roster and will be going home after the regular season ends.

The biggest decision Leyland faces is whether to include first-round draft choice Andrew Miller and his double-handful of professional appearances over rookie Zach Miner, who has had some good relief moments after doing a good job initially filling in as a starter when Maroth had to have left elbow surgery.

"We are putting Miller in situations to find out if he's a possibility," Leyland said. Miner helped his cause Wednesday, pitching 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

The Tigers will have 14 position players and 11 pitchers, four of them starters.

REPLAY: Toronto roughed up Kenny Rogers, building up a 7-0 lead Thursday before holding off a late Detroit rally for an 8-6 victory.

After the Twins edged the Royals 2-1 in 10 innings, the Tigers fell into a tie for first place in the AL Central. Detroit closes the regular season at home with a three-game series against Kansas City, while Minnesota closes with three home games against the White Sox.

"I'm not going to give them a Knute Rockne, let's go get 'em type of thing. I can tell you that right now," manager Jim Leyland said. "If we win three games, we're the champs. That's one break we've got. If we can't take advantage of it, shame on us."

Rogers is likely to start the Tigers' first playoff game since 1987 -- if Detroit draws Oakland as its opponent. If it's New York, he probably won't pitch until the first game in Comerica Park.

Rogers, 41, made a key first-inning error that led to Toronto taking a 2-0 lead, but then gave up five earned runs over the next 2 2/3 innings, his shortest outing in two months.

"He was mixing up his pitches like he usually does," said catcher Gregg Zaun, who scored two runs and had two hits. "But he got some of them up, and fortunately we were able to hit them."

A three-run seventh capped by Sean Casey's two-run home run brought Detroit up to 7-6. Toronto went ahead 8-6 in the eighth on a double-play groundout.

Alex Rios led the Blue Jays offensively with two RBIs, two hits and two runs.

A.J. Burnett (10-8) held the Tigers hitless until Ivan Rodriguez led off the fourth with a single. He allowed five runs, five hits, two walks and hit two batters over 6 1/3 innings. Three pitchers limited Detroit to a run, and then B.J. Ryan pitched the ninth for his 37th save.

--LHP Kenny Rogers fell into a hole that was partly of his own making Thursday, his throwing error leading to two Toronto runs in the first inning.

Rogers gave up seven runs, five earned, on eight hits with a walk and a hit batter. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing in two months.

"I really felt pretty good, and I felt I was doing what I wanted to do," said Rogers, who lost for the first time in September. "It was just a little tougher to get in the count as much as I wanted to.

"I felt my stuff was very similar to any other time I've been out there. But when I threw one outside, they went out and got it. And when I threw one inside, they pulled out and got those, too."

And when Rogers got the ball up in the strike zone, Toronto batters hit it. Rogers (17-7) won seven of his previous 10 starts with a 1.72 ERA and had a chance to match his career high for victories, but it was quickly clear that Thursday would not be his day.

--RF Magglio Ordonez wasn't in the starting lineup Thursday because manager Jim Leyland hopes to have him fresh for the playoffs. Ordonez did pinch-hit in the seventh, drawing a walk, and was on deck as the DH when the game ended.

"Magglio is fine. There was no problem," Leyland said. "He could play, but I'm giving him a blow."

--OF Alexis Gomez replaced RF Magglio Ordonez in Detroit's starting lineup Thursday and is likely to be on the Tigers' playoff roster. Gomez would be Detroit's fourth outfielder, not counting OF Marcus Thames, who probably will be manager Jim Leyland's playoff DH.

--1B Chris Shelton hasn't been told officially, but knows he probably will be on the Tigers' postseason roster as its alternate first baseman.

Shelton would likely see some playing time against tough left-handers, in place of left-handed-hitting regular first baseman Sean Casey. Shelton fanned twice against LHP Ted Lilly on Wednesday night, not looking especially good either time.

"He's got to be better than that," manager Jim Leyland said. "That's not criticism. That's not being upset. That's just fact."

--RHP Chad Durbin pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief Thursday but has already been told he's not making Detroit's postseason roster. More likely, Durbin was getting a look by Detroit to see if he might figure in plans for next year's bullpen or have value as part of a winter trade.

He relieved starting pitcher Kenny Rogers with two out in the fourth, gave up an RBI single, then finished off the inning and pitched two more.

--2B Placido Polanco was given the day off Thursday, save for a pinch-hitting performance in the ninth, per his manager's statement of the day before.

Jim Leyland said Polanco would not play the day game after Wednesday night's contest, but would play two or three games this weekend as the regular season ends.

INF Neifi Perez drew the starting assignment at second for Polanco.

Leyland plans to hit Polanco first in the batting order against tough left-handers in the playoffs with CF Curtis Granderson, who leads off the rest of the time, batting ninth.

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