For six years, Terry Francona had the duo of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz at his disposal in Boston. He could fill out the rest of his lineup card around the two sluggers and know that opposing pitchers would have nightmares the night before they toed the rubber against the Red Sox.
Now Francona is the Indians' skipper, and he has to deal with another pair of mashers. This time, the two reside in Detroit, and Francona has quickly discovered the aches and pains of facing Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
"It's difficult getting through [them] without getting nicked up," Francona said. "That's the whole idea. You watch the way they run the game, and I guarantee you if you ask [Tigers manager Jim Leyland], he's going to tell you one of his responsibilities is to make sure we have to pitch to them as much as possible."
Both Cabrera and Fielder socked homers in Detroit's series-opening win on Friday. The duo combined for 74 long balls last season and both players hit better than .300.
"They're very dangerous," Francona said. "And it's a lot like Ortiz-Ramirez -- lefty, righty. It's very similar."
What has impressed the Tribe manager, however, is how the remainder of Detroit's batting order has settled in around Cabrera and Fielder. The Tigers added right fielder Torii Hunter over the winter, and the four-time All-Star has excelled in the No. 2 hole. Hunter is hitting .333 and has scored 23 runs.
Detroit also welcomed back designated hitter Victor Martinez, who missed the 2012 campaign with a torn knee ligament. Martinez has yet to find his groove, but should he return to form -- he is a career .301 hitter -- he would seem to be capable of providing plenty of protection in the No. 5 spot.
"What they have, which makes me more nervous than just [Cabrera and Fielder], is you've got Torii Hunter hitting in front of them," Francona said. "You've got Victor, who in my opinion is the best protection hitter maybe in all of baseball, and he hasn't even gotten hot yet. He switch-hits and he can hit from both sides and he puts the bat on the ball and he hits good pitching.
"That makes me nervous."
Francona will task right-hander Zach McAllister (3-3, 2.63 ERA) with the challenge of stifling the Tigers' potent lineup on Sunday, when the American League Central rivals clash in the rubber match of their three-game set at Comerica Park.
Indians: Bauer gets the call for Monday
• The Indians will select 22-year-old Trevor Bauer to start the second game of their doubleheader against the Yankees on Monday at Progressive Field. Bauer has made a pair of starts for Cleveland this season, and has posted a 1-1 record and 2.70 ERA. Across 10 innings, he has limited the opposition to three hits, but has issued 13 walks.
"I might be the high guy on him," Francona said. "I think this guy is going to be what we're looking for. He just has to develop, and sometimes that takes a while to do."
• Francona said Saturday he would likely rest center fielder Michael Bourn on Sunday and play Drew Stubbs at the position. Bourn played Friday and Saturday after returning from the disabled list.
Tigers: Porcello to start Sunday
• Right-hander Rick Porcello (1-2 7.52 ERA) will attempt to submit his third straight quality start on Sunday. He has fashioned a 4.05 ERA over his last two outings after surrendering nine runs on nine hits in two-thirds of an inning on April 20. In 15 career starts against Cleveland, Porcello has compiled a 5-3 mark and 4.10 ERA.
• Reliever Octavio Dotel will try to throw again next week. The right-hander met with Dr. James Andrews, who determined that Dotel's elbow has no structural damage and doesn't need surgery.
• Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta is batting .433 (13-for-30) in May.
• Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .382 (13-for-34) in his career against Porcello. Catcher Carlos Santana boasts a .375 average (9-for-24) with three homers against the righty.