At this point, it would mean more than just a game back in the American League Central race if the Indians beat the Tigers.
Detroit's rain-shortened 7-2 win in Friday's series opener gave the Tigers six straight wins against Cleveland. The clubs have met 17 times this season, with the Tigers coming out on top in 14 of those matchups.
"You try to figure it out," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It happens. It's hard to figure sometimes. You look at it, and sometimes you even try to go back and see how they pitched them. It's just baseball."
The Tigers host the Tribe at Comerica Park again Saturday night in the second installment of a three-game weekend set, the teams' final series of the regular season. Left-hander Scott Kazmir (7-6, 4.25 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for Cleveland, with righty Anibal Sanchez (11-7, 2.61 ERA) set to take the ball for Detroit.
Despite the Tigers' dominance over the Tribe this season and Detroit's 7 1/2-game lead in the AL Central, Francona isn't treating this series with any added significance.
"I look at it like every other one," Francona said. "We've gotten to a point where every game means so much. On one hand, that's good. That means we've played this many games and every game means a lot. I wish we were four games up -- we're not.
"The nice thing -- and you don't say that too often when you're playing Detroit -- if you beat them, they're guaranteed of losing. Now, we haven't done a very good job of that, so it would behoove us to turn that around."
Indians: Kubel to meet up with Tribe
Jason Kubel is expected to join the Indians in time for Saturday's game. Cleveland acquired Kubel and cash from Arizona on Friday in exchange for a player to be named.
Kubel, who has dealt with various leg ailments this season, is batting just .220/.288/.324. But he hit 30 home runs with an .833 OPS a year ago with the D-backs. In addition to two years in Arizona, Kubel spent seven seasons in Minnesota.
"In acquiring Jason, we feel that we really fortified our organizational depth and we brought in a guy that's had success in the American League and was a really productive player as recently as last year," general manager Chris Antonetti said. "This year he's obviously had a tough year to date, but we're excited to bring him back to the American League and give him an opportunity to contribute."
The Tribe also announced Friday that left-hander Scott Barnes had been recalled from Triple-A Columbus and placed on the 60-day disabled list with a left wrist sprain, and that free-agent catcher Kelly Shoppach had been signed to a Minor League contract and assigned to the Clippers.
Tigers: Miggy comes out early again
Miguel Cabrera left Friday's opener after two innings because of irritation in his abdominal area. He struck out in his first-inning at-bat. Before the start of the third, Don Kelly shifted to third base and Andy Dirks entered the game in Cabrera's place, playing left field and batting third.
A day earlier, Cabrera exited the game against Oakland after five innings with similar discomfort, but said he would be ready to play this weekend's series against Cleveland.
"Believe me, if he can't play, he won't play," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said before Friday's game. "He's fine. He's hurting some. I checked with him today. He's ready to go. He's sore. That's the way it is. If he needs a day, he'll get it. If he needs two days or three days, whenever it is, big series, little series, whatever you want to call it."
An abdominal strain has bothered Cabrera for more than a month. Last year's AL Most Valuable Player and Triple Crown winner is batting .358 with 43 home runs and 130 RBIs.
"The only thing he can't do is he can't run," Leyland said Friday.
• Tribe first baseman Nick Swisher and Detroit designated hitter Victor Martinez each had a pair of doubles Friday.
• Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon notched the final out of the seventh inning Friday and earned his first career save.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.