When the Tigers acquired David Price at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, surely they didn't expect a rookie named Kyle Lobstein to start a series-deciding game against another American League postseason contender in late August.
But, due to an injury to Anibal Sanchez, that's exactly what will happen Thursday. Detroit will host the Yankees, and Michigan native Derek Jeter, for the last scheduled time of the season -- and in the case of Jeter, the last scheduled time period.
New York got the best of Price on Tuesday -- belting nine straight hits off him to start the third inning -- and halted the Tigers from moving into the second AL Wild Card spot, which Seattle still occupies by one-half game.
Lobstein made his Major League debut with 5 2/3 innings of long-relief work at Minnesota last week, allowing three earned runs. Thursday will be his first big league start after his 100-pitch relief appearance.
"I just tried to go as deep as I could," Lobstein said after his debut. "I felt fresh."
Justin Verlander's turn in the rotation was due to come up Thursday, but Detroit manager Brad Ausmus hinted that he'd prefer to give Lobstein his first start at a larger park, like Comerica Park. Thus, Verlander will pitch Friday against the White Sox in Chicago, where the ball tends to soar in the late-summer heat.
The move also is insurance in the event that Lobstein's first start doesn't go as well as he hopes. Ausmus would like to think that Verlander's outing on Friday could give the bullpen plenty of time to recover, especially after Wednesday's long night, before a Saturday doubleheader.
As the Yankees look to collect a crucial series win and cut into their 2 1/2-game Wild Card deficit, they'll rely on starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. He is coming off back-to-back wins but will be pitching on regular rest for just the second time this month.
"He's a guy that we've tried to make sure he gets the extra days when we can," manager Joe Girardi said after Kuroda's last win. "We gave him two the last time, and one extra one this time, and he'll go normal rest, but we need him down the stretch. He's got the most experience out there and he's been pitching well."
Yankees: Ellsbury crushing Tigers pitching
New York outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury enters Thursday's matinee finale going 5-for-8 so far in this series.
He homered twice off Detroit starter Rick Porcello on Tuesday, then started and ended the Yankees' streak of nine straight hits in the third inning of Wednesday's game.
New York manager Joe Girardi was asked whether Ellsbury can be classified as an impact player as his club enters the home stretch.
"Oh, I think so," Girardi responded. "I think he has been. I think sometimes people talk about impact players, and usually when they talk about impact players, they're talking about 30 [ homers and 110, 120 [RBIs]. But this is a guy that gets on base, steals bases, sets up RBIs for other guys. That's his impact, and he plays an unbelievable center field."
Tigers: Sanchez diagnosis confirmed by Dr. Andrews
On Wednesday, Dr. James Andrews confirmed the initial diagnosis of Anibal Sanchez's right pectoral strain, according to Ausmus.
Ausmus reiterated Wednesday that he hopes to have his starting pitcher back before the end of the season. That wish comes a day after Sanchez himself expressed concern over whether his regular season has come to an end because of the injury that forced him out of his last start on Aug. 8 in Toronto.
"It depends how fast I heal," Sanchez said. "It's nothing like they're going to say, 'All right, you're going to wait for two weeks or one week.' It's nothing like that. It's how fast does my body heal that area."
• Derek Jeter was honored in a pregame ceremony Wednesday night. The Tigers presented the Yankees' legend with a $5,000 check to the Turn 2 Foundation, a trio of paintings and two seats from Tiger Stadium. Jeter grew up in nearby Kalamazoo, Mich.
• Price was the first pitcher to allow nine straight hits in a game since Houston's Bob Forsch allowed nine straight hits to Cincinnati in 1989.
• New York's third-inning stretch of nine straight hits Wednesday fell just one shy of the AL record, set by Detroit in 1983.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.