MIAMI -- Justin Verlander will get his last throws in to get his game in tune for the playoffs with the start in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Marlins. More important for pride, he'll also get his only swings in.
After somehow missing the Tigers' other series in National League parks, from Washington to Pittsburgh in May and New York in August, Verlander will get his first and only at-bats of the year Sunday. His career 0-for-24 streak is on the line.
It's the longest hitless streak by a Tigers pitcher to start his career in the DH era, and the fourth-longest by a Tigers hurler since World War II.
"He's had to take a lot of kidding because he's the one pitcher [in the rotation] who doesn't have a hit," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's actually hit a few balls pretty decent, in defense of him."
There's the fly ball to the warning track at Wrigley Field as a rookie in 2006 that drew a standing ovation. There's the well-hit line drive to right field he remembers off San Francisco's Tim Lincecum at AT&T Park in 2008.
He remembers them all. Still, there's no base hit.
"I want to win the game, but I'm not sure if the guys would rather tease him after the game or if I hope he gets a hit," Leyland said half-jokingly. "I'm not sure which one's more important right now."
Leyland praises Selig's contributions to game
MIAMI -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland has known Bud Selig for years, and has helped him by taking a role on various committees. Now that the Major League Baseball commissioner has announced his plans to retire following the 2014 season, Leyland said he wasn't surprised, but that he leaves with a different legacy.
"I think he's like a guy that is in the Minor Leagues a long time," Leyland said. "When you're in the Minor Leagues a long time, they know you love the game. I compared it to that. He loves the game, and he's really tried to do his best for the welfare of the game.
"He's like anybody else that's the head of something. You're going to have people disagree with you. But at the end of the day, Bud Selig in my opinion has done an unbelievable, terrific job. I think he's been creative, he's tried to get it right, and I think he's been a tremendous ambassador for the game of baseball."
Tigers' pitching staff sets strikeout record
MIAMI -- The Tigers' pitching staff has been judged among the best in recent years, and the best Detroit has ever seen. For strikeouts, there's no longer any comparison in baseball history.
With Anibal Sanchez's first strikeout Saturday, Detroit eclipsed the Major League record of 1,404 previously held by the 2003 Cubs. The Tigers entered Saturday sharing the mark after six strikeouts among four different pitchers Friday night.
"I think it's a great accomplishment for them," pitching coach Jeff Jones said.
The reason for the historic total isn't hard to find. While Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander repeated their 200-strikeout seasons, Anibal Sanchez's first full season in a Tiger uniform put him on the cusp of the mark for the second time in his career. Doug Fister set a career high with 158 strikeouts for the season.
The big jump, however, came from Rick Porcello, who bumped his total from 107 last year to 140 this season entering Saturday. The addition of a curveball as a swing-and-miss pitch changed his style from a low-strikeout sinkerballer to somebody capable of inducing whiffs, including the first two double-digit strikeout games of his career.
Just how much of a difference that makes is a matter of opinion.
"We've got some power pitchers, so when you get power pitchers, you get strikeouts," manager Jim Leyland said. "I don't make that big a deal about it. I'm just worried about outs. I don't care how we get them."
Porcello, however, sees it as a huge development in his career.
"You've got to be able to strike guys out, especially in the American League," he said after his 10-strikeout game Sept. 16. "With the type of hitters they have in big, strong guys, we have to be able to get swings and misses when you need them. I've been able to do that a little bit better this year than I have in years past."
His pitching coach agrees.
"American League, with the DH, you have constant threats at the plate," Jones said. "I think it's good that you can strike some guys out."
With No. 3 seed wrapped up, Martinez rests
MIAMI -- Once upon a time, this season-ending series against the Marlins was supposed to be Victor Martinez's time to shine behind the plate. His two games catching against the Mets in August were a preparation to get his bat in the lineup in what could have been the finishing games of a playoff race against the Marlins.
Now that the Tigers have their playoff spot and their seeding wrapped up, this is more like a weekend for Martinez to rest.
"I have a plan to pinch-hit Victor," manager Jim Leyland said. "In my conversation with Victor, that's what he wants. He feels like he's good. He doesn't need a lot. Just pinch-hitting would be sufficient, in his opinion. I'm not sure if that's accurate or not, but that's what he would like to do, and so that's what it looks like we'll do.
"Had we not clinched, he probably would've caught last night. Since we clinched, I don't think it makes any sense to risk him getting hurt and going to the playoffs without one of the best hitters and RBI guys in the league. I mean, he's already proven he can sit for a year and a half and catch a game and not have any issues, so I'm not worried about that."
Martinez pinch-hit in Friday night's opener, but did not stay in the game, even though he could have slotted in at first base. If he repeats that plan all weekend, he'll end up with his fewest at-bats in a series this season since he sat in May's two-game series in Washington. But the hope is that it'll be enough at-bats for him to keep his timing for next weekend, when the Tigers open their Division Series.
"I just don't think it's smart to take a chance," Leyland said. "Bats are hard to come by. We've got one of the best. If I lost him catching in a game where we've already clinched … "
Funeral arrangements made for Brown
MIAMI -- Funeral arrangements have been set for Tigers legend Gates Brown, who passed away on Friday at age 74.
A public viewing will be held on Thursday from noon to 9 p.m. ET at Swanson Funeral Home, Northwest Chapel. It's located at 14751 West McNichols in Detroit. The funeral will be a private ceremony.
• Former Tigers great Cecil Fielder has been spotted at Marlins Park the past two nights, apparently reconnecting with son Prince. The two shook hands next to the dugout before Friday's series opener, a scene caught by the FOX Sports Detroit broadcast. The two remained distant for several years after a divorce and Cecil Fielder's reported gambling problem.