OAKLAND -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland has always bristled at the notion of "protecting" hitters in the lineup. There's no hitter good enough, for instance, to keep an opponent from pitching around Miguel Cabrera, if the foe was so inclined.
That might be what the Tigers face with Victor Martinez now after the best second half in the big leagues.
Leyland went with the matchups in Game 1 of the American League Division Series and moved catcher Alex Avila up to sixth in his batting order, right behind Martinez. Both Avila and Andy Dirks entered the series 4-for-8 for their careers off A's starter Bartolo Colon, but Avila's .303 average and .876 OPS since the All-Star break won out.
Dirks moved down to eighth.
"I put Alex up there a little bit because of his numbers," Leyland said. "Dirks does real good at the top of the order, so I tried to push him down, just to see if that would relax him a little bit."
Avila's numbers still might not be enough to deter a cautious approach to Martinez, who went 11-for-16 against the A's during their four-game series in August at Comerica Park. Martinez was intentionally walked 10 times this year, his highest total since his 114-RBI season in Cleveland in 2007.
Nine of those intentional walks came after Jhonny Peralta, who was batting sixth regularly, was suspended in early August. None of them, however, came from the A's.
"I can't worry about that," Leyland said. "A lot of people are taking for granted that we got Victor in there this year, but a lot of people forget Delmon Young has been terrific in the playoffs."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.