AL DIVISION SERIES: TIGERS v ATHLETICS
October 6, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
DETROIT, MICHIGAN: Workout Day
Q. When you get to?? I think you've talked about this over the years, but when you get to postseason play and you face the caliber of pitchers that playoff teams give you, does that change a team's style of offense? Does that force you into more of a manufacturing type of offense, maybe a little bit more than the regular season?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think you watch how it's going and you try to be a little creative, which we did last night. When I say that, it wasn't certainly overcreative. We ran a guy 3?2, which you normally do during a season. And we put one hit and run on. But runs are stingy.
And to be honest with you, these have been two fantastic playoff games. They really have. Two 1?run games, nip and tuck. We haven't scored a run for 17 innings. And most of that's the credit to Oakland's pitching. And we've done a good job as well with them. They've been two fantastic games.
I'm going to say this: I'm going to play Peralta tomorrow, maybe to try to get another extra base?? a bat in the lineup, because we've got to try to score some runs, obviously. But it's been great baseball. The atmosphere out there was terrific, as I know it will be here.
Two teams really going at it and pitching performance unbelievable. So I guess if that hasn't answered your question?? you just kind of use a little common sense, and you kind of smell what you might need to do. And we're not going to come out tomorrow and try to steal five bases, if that's what you mean, but you pick a slot.
Q. Jim, you talk about that offense and you mentioned 17 innings with no runs and you mentioned the pitching. But is there anything in your approach, do you think, or has it been to?? Colon and Gray were just that good? Do you think Colon and Gray were that good for the offense as far as why you guys haven't been able to score that much?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I just think the pitching has been that good. I think you're seeing postseason pitching is really good. That's why teams are in the postseason. That's what happens.
Now, it's freaky because?? and please don't anybody take this out of context?? but if you look the other day, it's kind of freaky in our situation that pitching has really been good and you know that the Tampa/Boston series pitching is great, but the other day, they must have scored six runs off David Price, which is a freak thing.
You never know how it works out. In our situation, the hitting probably hasn't been that good and the pitching has been outstanding.
In some other games, there has been some runs scored.
Q. You mentioned Peralta. Was that your plan all along, was to come back here and have him in here for Game 3?
JIM LEYLAND: Not necessarily. I wanted to look at it. We're still pitching?oriented and you're still taking a little bit of a chance because, defensively, you don't know what's going to happen. But there comes a point where you say, well, you might have to give up something to get something. So I'm just hoping that maybe he can knock in a couple of runs and we can get a lead and maybe get him out there later in the game.
But we've got to try to stretch the lineup a little bit, although Donny Kelly had two hits last night. Actually created a hit and run, so he did a good job. But you know, Jhonny is a threat to hit one in the gap or over the fence. Just feel like it's time to maybe?? maybe I thought Bob did a good job when he slipped Smith into the lineup. Couple of big hits for 'em. And certainly there's nothing wrong with that. I thought it was a good move.
We're going to slip Peralta in there tomorrow and hope that maybe we can get the same kind of results.
Q. Outside of the Peralta addition, do you anticipate any other lineup changes at all?
JIM LEYLAND: No, I do not. No, I don't think so. I think everything else will be pretty much status quo. Iglesias will be at short and Hunter and Jackson and Miggy and Prince and Infante and Alex, so, no, I don't see any other changes?
Q. Jim, with Anibal Sanchez going tomorrow, do you feel just as good about him as you do with Scherzer or Verlander with the way he's been pitching all season?
JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, I do. It's been good. Both teams are putting really good pitchers there all day. And we just came back form playing two playoff games, and we pitching a guy that lead the league in earned run average tomorrow, so that's pretty good.
But at the same time, like I said, we've got to get on the boards some. And I do want to emphasize how much I credit the pitching, but still, when you get to postseason, you gotta be able to get some hits and put up a few runs anyway against good pitching.
Q. Jim, it looked like often Jackson might be pressing a little. Is that what you see? Or is it just pitching?
JIM LEYLAND: I don't really know. I don't really know the answer to that. I haven't seen any signs of anybody on our club pressing.
I think they're really competing. They seem to be in good spirits. The clubhouse has good atmosphere. So I can't say that?? you really never know because you can't get inside the individual to know the answer to that question. But I don't really see any signs to that.
I think [indiscernible] last night. I think it was a combination of?? he's really good and we knew that watching him, and then I'd have to say he was even better than expected. He was terrific.
Q. Sometimes in postseason, a manager has to put a player in a role that maybe he's not all that familiar with or hasn't done all that much. Melvin bunted Reddick last night, and you brought in Porcello in relief. I know he has relief for you before, and you'll use Peralta in the outfield tomorrow. How do you weigh the needs of the team against the comfort level of a player in a role that he's not all that familiar with?
JIM LEYLAND: That's a great question. I think that, well, Porcello has been out of the bullpen a little bit before. And last night, we could have gone after Reddick and maybe tried to strike him out, but I just felt like we had the catcher hitting, and obviously I brought Ricky in because he's a sinkerball pitcher. Trying to get a ground ball at somebody, you figure if he hits it hard enough, you could go?? wherever he hit the ball in the infield, you could possibly go you home to first and get the double play and get out of it.
You know, whenever I get asked a question like you're asking, which is a very good question, and I'm not really sure I know the answer to, but I always cop out by saying in 1968, Mayo Smith took his centerfielder and played him at shortstop for the World Series, and they won. So I guess that's my answer.
Q. Do you remember seeing so many young pitchers being this dominant in postseason or having such a great impact in both leagues?
JIM LEYLAND: No, I haven't. And that's another thing that was brought up in our coach's room the other day. We were talking about it and, I mean, last night?? and I really have to be careful because Verlander was unbelievable. He was absolutely terrific.
But, you know, you at least expect when you see a young guy like Gray to show maybe not all that much composure in every situation, but he was unbelievable. It's like they're coming up quicker, I guess, and they have no fear. Big stage doesn't seem to bother them. It's really unbelievable.
I don't know how it's happening. But like I said, last night, he looked like a guy that's pitched three games in the World Series already. And that's?? I really don't know how that happens.
Q. Is this kind of a weird series in the sense that you got the split, you got what you went there for, but because of the scoreless streak, the innings streak, it still feels weird that you haven't produced to the level you're accustomed to?
JIM LEYLAND: Like I said, runs will be stingy. I don't care how good you think your offense is. Runs will always be normally stingy in postseason play. And I think that's right.
We were awful disappointed last night. It was a great game. And we only had a couple of shots. They ended up winning that game. So it's like I told the coaches afterwards, I says, well, you know, we did come on the road and get a split. So let's not be too disappointed.
I think it was just one of those games where we were disappointed because we didn't score a run and it was 1?0. If we'd got beat 5?1, I think everybody would have that attitude. Well, we went out here, we got the split. We're going home. Let's see what we can do.
But because it was such a tough game, an emotional game, and a draining game, I think we were a little more disappointed.
But I thought the players' reactions were good. They gave Gray all the credit. There was nothing tricky about it. And we'll be here in the morning. We'll be ready to play tomorrow afternoon.
Q. Speaking of tomorrow morning, Jim, just the excitement level. I know postseason baseball in Detroit never gets old. Just talk about how crazy this place is going to be tomorrow, do you think?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, it was terrific in Oakland, and I think our guys did a good job. I really enjoyed that atmosphere. I enjoyed obviously here more because it's our fans. But I think that's the way you have to look at it. Enjoy the moment and feed off it. And that's what we tried to do in Oakland, and I'm sure we'll do that here tomorrow.
It's kind of a?? it's a Monday, and a lot of people are going to get docked some pay probably because they're not going to work tomorrow; they're coming to the game. I hope that's the case.
But it's going to be exciting. It always is. Our regular season games are exciting. We get 35,000, 40,000 people for the regular season games. This is just a little extra adrenalin I think. And we're really looking forward to it. And we're looking forward to getting back home.
But like I said, the atmosphere out there was good and I thought we did a pretty good job handling it.
Q. Just one more about that, you mentioned it's Monday at 1:00. Do you almost feel for the Tiger fans in the fact that it's a 1:00 on Monday. People gotta?? they didn't find out until Friday when it was kind of announced.
JIM LEYLAND: Well, they found out the same way we did, and we're the players and the managers. You know, it's obvious what goes on here in postseason play. They try to adjust with the TV times, which we certainly owe that all the respect in the world. They pay a lot of money and they have to get their times, and it's just one of those things you have to understand and you go along with, and I don't have any problem with that. It might inconvenience some people. I guess that's a possibility. But that's just the way it is.
So we're going to play a game tomorrow at 1:07, I guess it is, and hopefully the place will be packed.
Q. You haven't used Veras yet, and I don't think he warmed up yesterday. Is he okay?
JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, Veras is fine. That's another good question, and I'll answer that question.
Alburquerque has had kind of a hot hand. So he's been getting some strike outs and he kind of had a hot hand and that's why we went with him. But we'll be using Veras in the series. Absolutely nothing wrong with him. He's 100percent and very available.
Q. This isn't really a baseball question but bear with me. You and your coaches and players have jobs and make a nice living in a city where a lot of people are out of work, a lot of people are struggling where the city itself has declared bankruptcy. Do you ever consider that at all, just how fortunate you guys are compared to everybody else in the city, and do you ever feel guilty about it?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I never feel guilty because I think this organization does a lot of wonderful things for the city. We try to have all kind of interaction with the cities and all kinds of programs to try to help people out. I think the Detroit Tigers have done an outstanding job of that.
I think if you've ever watched my interviews and I start balling and I get very sensitive to that. I'm not going to ball today, by the way that. I think that we're sensitive to that. We really are. I know how hard those people work and it's a tough thing.
But I don't think that there's anything we should feel guilty about. I think it's something that we should feel proud about. And I do think at the same time, I do think that during tough times, athletics usually blossom, and you can make a lot of people happy and forget the tough times that they're having. That's kind of been a history of tough financial economic times. Sports teams do pretty well.
So we're trying to put a smile on our face and make it as bearable as possible. I think we're very generous. I think we're also very generous financially. I think one of my pitchers just donated a million dollars to the military. I think there's a lot of stuff that goes beyond the scenes where we do donate money.
I'm not bragging about that. I'm saying the players are very conscientious about that type of thing and we try to be very, very good about it. But it doesn't heal all the wounds. We understand that.
So we think that we have a great relationship with the City. We think we have a good product that they enjoy coming out to see, and we're not a cure?all. Some of those financial problems are obviously a lot more deep seated than the Detroit Tigers organization, but I don't think anybody would question what the Ilitch family has done for this city and what they've tried to do. And obviously, on a little smaller scale, we certainly try to do our part. So, like I said, it's a pretty good relationship.
Q. Prince Fielder has been so consistent throughout his career, and yet in the postseason, he's really struggled throughout his career. Prince has really struggled throughout his career the postseason. Do you see anything in particular about the way teams approach him or the way he approaches things? I know you mentioned nobody's pressing.
JIM LEYLAND: No, I don't think so. I think you never really know. It's kind of an individual thing. And I mean, he's capable of popping out with a big moment at any time. That's the way I kind of look at it.
There are cases?? and I don't know if this is a case with Prince at all. I don't know that. There are cases when people try too hard and that works against them. I'm not saying that the case with him.
But I feel good about him being up there in any situation, and I know he's the type of player that has a chance to break out at anytime with a three?run homer or a big hit, so hopefully we'll get that.
Q. Is there any difficulty with the weight of expectations of the Tigers? It's almost like people are expecting Tigers to run away with the Central, go to the World Series, maybe win the World Series. Can that be tough for a team?
JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, I think so. I think we're past that. I think we accomplished that when we won the Central. I think every year you start talking about teams, and the latest news is always the action. But that's the one reason I was so proud of this team this year, because we were set up to fail. Let's face it. I mean, for the caravan on, the signing of Tori Hunter, the expectations.
I thought what we accomplished, I think everyone in this room, along with a lot of other national media, found out how good the Cleveland Indians were and good Kansas City was. They were all in it until last week. Cleveland got in. It's just not that easy.
So I was extremely proud of this team for that reason. That's not an issue. Our guys are pumped up. We think we're good. We know Oakland is good. We're playing. I can't tell you who is going to win.
But, yeah, when you have expectations like we have, it's tough, but you have to learn to embrace those expectations and make it good pressure.
I always talk about good pressure and bad pressure. Good pressure is when you prepare for what you're supposed to accomplish and you go out and the situations come up and you're ready for it. Bad pressure, if you're not prepared, that can swallow you up.
So I'm very proud of this club. I think we've done a good job. And basically, to be honest with you, when you get into the playoffs, it's a crap shoot. That's the way it is. People can say all they want who is favored, who should win, who shouldn't win, but when you're in the postseason, it's a crap shoot.
It was three or four months ago, nobody ever heard of Sonny Gray, other than the people in baseball who knew he was a great prospect up?and?coming young pitcher. Here he is, probably pitched the game of his night last night. So a lot of things happen when you get here, and that's why postseason is a crap shoot.