AL DIVISION SERIES: TIGERS v ATHLETICS
October 6, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
DETROIT, MICHIGAN: Workout Day
Q. Bob, as Detroit starting rotations, the same four guys you faced last year, obviously, do you think they're better this time around?
BOB MELVIN: They're good whatever time around. I mean, along with the offense and starting pitching, that's the strength of their team. So we've seen that early on in this series. We've seen it in the past.
We did have a good series here about a month ago or so. But I don't think you can expect to score eight or nine runs off those starters every time.
Q. Bob, are you anticipating any lineup changes for tomorrow?
BOB MELVIN: I'm not sure yet. Still mulling it over a little bit.
Q. In some ways this seems like a continuation of last year's series. After two games, what about this series feels the same as last year and what about it feels different, if anything?
BOB MELVIN: Well, the same spirit, the same fight. A little different that we started at our place, whereas last year we were here. But there's still a lot to be played out.
But I think just now, the history between the two teams, it seems like each and every game we play them, there's a little more to it because of the fact that we have played them a few times and each game seems to be hard?fought.
Q. Can you just talk about the job that you've done on Detroit's offense as a whole, three runs in two games and scoreless in 17 innings?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah. It's tough to hold that lineup down. I know they were struggling a little bit toward the end of the season, but there really shouldn't be any carry?over from that. You have the days off, the separation. It's a whole different feel once you get to the postseason.
Our pitchers have done a great job. We do the best job we can as far as preparing them and balancing between what our strengths are as a staff and what potential weakness they have. And at this point it's been pretty good, but they've done the same.
Q. Bob, tomorrow with Anibal Sanchez and you faced Verlander and Scherzer, do you put him right in that same class, number three starter??
BOB MELVIN: Oh, yeah, any other team, he's a top of the rotation guy. They're lucky enough to have three guys. And really Fister at times can be just as tough as any of them. If you put any of those four guys on a different team, you're looking at?? other than the first two, obviously, you're looking at top of the rotation guys.
Q. What was your impression of what Seth Smith gave you last night? And how is he able to stay ready when he tends to sit on the bench for a few days?
BOB MELVIN: Right I think if anybody can acclimate, whether it's a DH role, some time off or a pinch?hitting role, it's Seth based on his experience in the National League with the Rockies. He was in that role before, so we feel good about his preparation and staying ready for any particular sign that we give him.
BOB MELVIN: He was huge last night. Good at?bats, and the last one certainly put us in the position to win the game.
Q. What's your impression of the series so far, the first two games? Very few runs, but people talk about the runs being at a premium, pitching being better than hitting, but to this degree is maybe a little bit further than that.
BOB MELVIN: Maybe so. But there's still some games left to be played and both teams have the ability to put runs on the board, which we've seen two of the better offenses in the American League.
It could turn. It could stay in this direction, you never really know, but it seems like in postseason, for whatever reason, the pitching rules the day a little bit more so and runs are tougher to come by.
Q. Bob, you already played two games obviously, two close games, but you mentioned that series back in August where you guys took three of four. What went so right in that series and can you pull anything I guess out of that? I know Jim Leyland was curious that you guys were stealing signs.
BOB MELVIN: I wish we were stealing signs. You get to second base, and when you get a lot of guys out there, you know, I'm always aware of it, too. You're watching third base coaches. You're watching first base coaches. Anytime there's a number of guys on second base, you have the ability to steal some signs. But it didn't happen in that series.
We just had our best offensive series of the year. Against these guys, you wouldn't have expected that. But we just had a lot of momentum once we score a bunch of runs the first game. We were getting pitch counts up, getting into the bullpen. A little different dynamic than what we're looking at right now.
Q. Any thoughts why so many great young pitchers are surfacing now. You saw it last night, you're seeing the National League playoffs?
BOB MELVIN: I think organizations now are giving opportunities more so to younger players, not just pitchers, but position players as well. I mean, young players aren't looked at as they were maybe ten or 12 years ago that they need more seasoning, you're scared to run somebody out there in a high?profile position.
As far as we go, based on some of the maybe payroll or whatever for us, we've always?? this organization's been really good about giving the younger players an opportunity and a prominent opportunity. And I think when guys are coming up through our system or coming out of college, they know that they have a chance to get to the Big Leagues quickly.
Q. Bob, sometimes in postseason, a manager asks a player to maybe fill a role and perform a task that he hasn't done all that much during the season. Last night you asked Josh to sacrifice. Leland brings in Porcello in the ninth inning in a tough situation. How do you balance the needs of the team against a particular player's comfort level doing what you need him to do?
BOB MELVIN: I mean, it's your awareness of the player and what they're all about. And up until that point, Red wasn't swinging his best where we had first and second. We tried to get a guy at third and get a guy in less a hit. Didn't get it down.
But he has the ability to do it. He's a pretty talented guy, whether it's at the plate, in the field, running the bases. He does a lot of things right and he's a good athlete. Just ended up popping the ball up.
But I felt confident in him being able to get the bunt down even though he doesn't do it very often.
Q. Bob, what is the difference now between Cespedes and maybe earlier in the season, the last few weeks and particularly in this series and really all the postseason games you've played since he's been here?
BOB MELVIN: He does like the spotlight. He loves it. You saw it in the All?Star Game when he was in the home?run hitting contest. He's not afraid of the spotlight. He embraces it. And I think once the postseason started after what was a little bit of a difficult year for him, not only numbers?wise but injury?wise, this is like a fresh start for him. He was pretty fired up about being healthy enough to play the outfield, and you're seeing when he's healthy what he can do, and he's obviously a big part of our team.
Q. The finish to last night's game was so riveting and exciting. If we could deconstruct that a little bit. Was there a chance that Vogt wasn't going to bat in that inning the way you were manipulating it? And how did you cleverly get him in that situation?
BOB MELVIN: I don't know about cleverly. If you?? you did see his at?bat against Verlander. That was one of the toughest at?bats we've seen in the series. He's not the type of guy that let's a couple of at?bats get to him. He was grinding in that last at?bat when he struck out and struck out a couple times before that.
Based on the personnel we had on the bench, Callaspo is a guy maybe I would consider doing that with or if Seth Smith was sitting on the bench. But he was involved in the game, was in the flow of it, and no, he was going to hit.