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DET@TOR: Dickey hangs tough for seven innings

The Indians and Blue Jays have vaulted into the playoff hunt this season. Both sit around .500 after slow starts or middle portions of the season.

Cleveland has a unique test on Thursday as it continues to battle with the Tigers atop the American League Central, facing a starting pitcher whose recent turnaround has helped spark Toronto's revival.

R.A. Dickey, last year's National League Cy Young Award winner and notable knuckleballer, takes the mound against Danny Salazar, who will make his Major League debut for the Indians in the rubber game at Progressive Field.

It's a matchup of young versus old and a contrast in styles, as Dickey relies on the game's trickiest pitch.

"I don't know about right or wrong way," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You hear the sayings. What is it? 'If it's high let it fly, if it's low let it go.' Dickey's a little different."

Francona managed Tim Wakefield for years with the Red Sox where the knuckleballer became one of his most reliable starting pitchers. Even Francona doesn't have the answers to solve Dickey when he's on.

"You know what? I don't know," Francona confessed. "Hopefully, he throws some in the middle that don't do anything. And when you get some of those, hopefully you don't miss them. Because there's some he's going to throw that are unhittable. Sometimes, there's some he throws that aren't catchable. It's like, most pitchers, you want to get a mistake and hit it."

Dickey, who won the Cy Young Award last year with a league-leading 230 strikeouts, sports an unimpressive 4.77 ERA overall this season, but features a 3.89 ERA in his last five starts.

Blue Jays: Cecil in a mini slump
Two days after allowing two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Twins, the right-handed reliever allowed another run on Wednesday, the first time this season that he's allowed earned runs in back-to-back outings. Both appearances have come since he was named to the American League All-Star team as a middle reliever.

Cecil's ERA is 1.99, which is the highest it's been since May 25.

Indians: Salazar set for debut
Salazar wasn't overly spectacular in the Minors this season -- 3-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 10 starts with Triple-A Columbus -- but the Indians will hand him the ball on Thursday.

He also made seven starts with Double-A Akron, going 2-3 with a 2.67 ERA.

The 23-year-old Dominican has been a member of the Cleveland organization since 2007 when he made his professional debut as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League. He impressed the Indians with a 1.96 ERA and 0.995 WHIP, and six years later he's in the Majors.

Worth noting
• Dickey was spectacular last season, but few were better against the starter than outfielder Michael Bourn, who went 5-for-10 against Dickey with the Braves last season. Drew Stubbs was the only other current Indians player to get more than five at-bats against Dickey last season -- going 1-for-8.

• As Steve Delabar makes his case for the final All-Star Game spot in the AL, he notched his first save of the season on Wednesday, inducing a flyout on his only pitch. He is one of three Final Vote candidates with at least one save this season, joining Boston's Koji Uehara and Detroit's Joaquin Benoit.

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