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KC@DET: Alvarez fans five over 5 2/3 strong frames

The Tigers clinched their third consecutive American League Central title after beating the Twins 1-0 on Wednesday, but they are one game behind the A's to earn home-field advantage in the AL Division Series. In the last series of the year, Detroit will face the Marlins for the first time since 2004 on Friday.

Rookie left-hander Jose Alvarez will take the mound for the Tigers in what will be his sixth Major League start. Rick Porcello was originally scheduled to make a final tuneup start before the playoffs, but Detroit switched to Alvarez on Friday morning.

Alvarez, 24, filled in for Anibal Sanchez when Sanchez was battling injuries in June. Alvarez threw six innings of one-run ball in his Major League debut on June 9. He made four more starts, losing three of them, before going to the bullpen.

Tom Koehler will toe the rubber for the Marlins in his final start of the season. In his last outing, he gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in six innings. As he fights to get into Miami's 2014 plans as either a starter or reliever, he enjoys facing playoff teams.

"We talked about that earlier when we got here, that we were going to play teams down the stretch that are trying to get in the playoffs or are in the playoffs," Koehler said. "This is a good experience for us. Obviously, we're not in it. But to get to play against teams who are playing for something, that means something. It's good, because we're going against guys who are really locked in."

Mike Redmond will also finish out his first season as a manager against the man who was his first MLB manager, Jim Leyland. Redmond made his debut with the Marlins in 1998, when they lost 108 games.

"Jim Leyland had a huge impact in my playing career," Redmond said. "I was a guy who wasn't expected to get to the big leagues. He showed a lot of faith in me and played me, when people said, 'You don't have to play this guy. You can just sit him on the bench.' But he found a role for me. He played me against lefties, and he got me comfortable playing in the big leagues.

"He believed in me. I ended up playing 13 years in the big leagues, and having the career that I did. He got me started in all of that. He's given me a lot of great advice throughout the years, and I have so much respect for him as a manager."

Tigers: Peralta will return
Jhonny Peralta will rejoin the Tigers after his 50-game suspension ends for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said the displaced shortstop turned left-field candidate will be activated to the 40-man roster on Thursday.

"He's worked hard, eager to get back," Dombrowski said. "The team has been receptive to him coming back, and we think it's best for the ball club to give him the opportunity."

Dombrowski said Peralta's place on the postseason roster has yet to be decided. Peralta, who hit .305 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs in 104 games before the suspension, has spent the past week or so working out in left field with the Tigers' instructional league team in Florida.

"I think we just have to have a comfort zone that he can perform out there," Dombrowski said. "And even if he can't perform out there as much as you'd like, does he still make you better going into the postseason with him on your roster, depending on how everything shapes up? And those are not discussions for today."

• Bruce Rondon is suffering from right-elbow discomfort after pitching a scoreless inning on Tuesday, in the same area that held him out for two weeks earlier this month.

"He came in today with some complaints of discomfort in his elbow, similar to what he had in Boston," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. "It's hard to determine at this point if it's to that point, so we're just going to treat him today, try to get it quieted down and re-evaluate it."

Marlins: Mathis sits with bruised thumb
Jeff Mathis told Redmond that his bruised right thumb was bothering him once again after sustaining the injury on Sept. 9, which forced him to miss seven games.

"Hopefully, it's just a one-day thing or two-day thing," Redmond said.

Mathis is 1-for-23 in seven games since the injury. Koyie Hill filled in for Mathis on Wednesday, and the Marlins also have Rob Brantly as an option to catch if Mathis misses more time.

Worth noting
• Juan Pierre is 7-for-18 (.389) with one home run and five RBIs in his career against Porcello.

• Leyland has 700 wins as manager of the Tigers, becoming the third manager in franchise history to earn as many wins. Only Sparky Anderson (1,331 wins) and Hughie Jennings (1,131 wins) had more. This is Leyland's eighth season in Detroit.

Probables:

Friday: LHP Jose Alvarez (1-4, 5.50 ERA) vs. RHP Tom Koehler (4-10, 4.45 ERA)

Saturday: RHP Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.64 ERA) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (4-6, 3.50 ERA)

Sunday: RHP Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.56 ERA) vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez (4-6, 3.94 ERA)

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