DET@OAK: Bob Melvin discusses evening the series

Q.  Obviously Stephen was the hero for you tonight, but did you consider a pinch‑hit situation when you had second and third?

BOB MELVIN:  He has been giving us good at‑bats. Callaspo was the next thought, but even though he had strikeouts, we ultimately had faith in him and he came through for us.

Q.  Being a catcher you can appreciate the walk‑off single.

BOB MELVIN:  That's why we have three. If I could have ten here, I would have ten.

Q.  You like depth. Explain the strikeout that takes away their chance to score.

BOB MELVIN:  Sonny is usually really quick to the plate, but that particular pitch, he needed to make a pitch and was probably as slow to the plate as he was all game. And Stephen got off unbelievable throw and Sonny was about 1.4 and Stephen needed to get a 1.8 down there to get the runner.

It looked like there was interference or obstruction in front of him and had to throw over, but your instincts tell you to throw the ball.

That is a huge play in the game. Now it gets forgot about a little bit based on the fact that the game went so long and there were zeros. But at the time, that's as big of a play as ultimately the hit he got.

Q.  The way this played out, I would imagine with tension as the zeros are going up, did it feel like this might be a larger than one‑game moment, this may be a series turner?

BOB MELVIN:  Well, you know runs seem to get tougher to come by when you go deeper and deeper into the game. You had two starting pitchers that were electric tonight and they were going to put up zeros. They were going to make big pitches when they had to, but it felt like a game that was going to be a battle of attrition. If you have bases loaded and you get a strikeout and a double play, you end up with not getting the score in. But our guys were battling all night and luckily enough we're even at 1‑1 now.

Q.  Do you think about Coco possibly bunting with a runner on second to get the runner to third?


Q.  You touched on it, but talk about the composure Sonny had on the mound today and what he did to accomplish what he did on the mound.

BOB MELVIN:  His composure is excitement, really. He loves to pitch. He's excited on game day. He goes out there, you can tell he's excited about it. He's not one of those guys that's stone‑faced out there and you can't tell his emotions. He's into every pitch and he really enjoys doing it. That has worked for him over his career and still is at the major league level.

Q.  The way you do things collectively here is legendary. How much of the metric guys and you, what part did that play in consideration in pitching him here tonight and Parker in the next game?

BOB MELVIN:  I don't think it had anything to do with numbers. We just wanted Sonny pitching in a place that he was comfortable pitching and had pitched before. And Jarrod started the game last year in Detroit, it was as simple as that.

Q.  It was your decision?

BOB MELVIN:  No, it was a club decision, yeah.

Q.  I think there has been one game between your two teams that has been decided by more than two runs, what is it about these two teams?

BOB MELVIN:  They fight hard. They have good pitching, and typically don't beat themselves. Simply put. You expect more high‑scoring games based on both offenses, but pitching can rule the day.

We swung the bats really well over there last time and now these guys are on it here. So I think both teams have a lot of will and a lot of fight and don't beat themselves.

Q.  The gun made it seem like Verlander was getting stronger as the game went on. Did it feel like it from your vantage point?

BOB MELVIN:  He always does that, he will start out 92, 93, and in the later innings, he's throwing 97. And I think that's by design. He can throw it up there when he has two strikes, but that's all part of what he does and he does it very well.

Q.  Candidly, what are you seeing from Miguel Cabrera's swings since this groin injury has been the least kept secret in baseball?

BOB MELVIN:  I thought he moved around better today, to tell you the truth. When he got the pop‑up by third base, he was moving better than he was yesterday. I'm not going to break down his swing. The guy is dangerous regardless, and no matter if he has his legs under him or not, he hits the ball hard up the middle as he has both games. And you're always thinking about where he is in the lineup and potentially a walk waitin' to happen.

Stephen Vogt Oct. 5 postgame interview

Q.  The walk‑off probably the best one of your life, but the one before that, can you talk about that at‑bat?

STEPHEN VOGT:  First of all, what a great job by Sonny Gray. Justin Verlander is such a good pitcher and to be able to battle him like that and fight a lot of pitches, obviously, I didn't come through. Ended up with a punch out bullet. I felt pretty good about that at‑bat. The one in the ninth, you come up bases loaded, nobody out, and that's what you dream of. Look for something out over the plate, stay in the middle of the field, just fortunate to come through.

Q.  Can you go through the at‑bat that ends with the strikeout/throw out that ends the inning?

STEPHEN VOGT:  Once again, there is Sonny Gray. He made pitches. He competed. For a 23‑year‑old kid like that on the stage that he was on tonight, can't say enough about the job he did. Had a good feeling he was going to go 3‑1 or 3‑2 and just with him going 3‑2, he made a great pitch on the outside corner. Cut away from Austin's bat and I was able to put a throw on the money and nail him. That was a huge play for us in a lot of ways. To get us out of that inning and keep it where it was was great.

Q.  Talking about Sonny, what do you chuck off to his composure today in his first playoff game and how well he pitched?

STEPHEN VOGT:  It's a testament to the kid he is, I think. I have had the ability to catch him a majority of the year, Triple‑A and the big leagues, and he's been the same kid every day. Even today we were joking around like we always do. You could tell in the bullpen he was going to have a great night.

He didn't change anything about who he was. He went out there on the stage and stayed Sonny Gray. He's so much fun. I'm excited to see what he can do.

Q.  As a catcher when you're 0‑0 and it's getting into the late innings, how much more important is each pitch that you're making for location and selection and all that?

STEPHEN VOGT:  It's extremely important and that's where you trust that between the coaching staff and the other catchers and the pitching staff, that we've done our homework and we're prepared.

There was never any doubt in my mind that we were going to keep puttin' up 0s, the way Sonny pitches and bringing in Balfour in the ninth. He did what he does best.

So we felt good about tonight and stick with the scouting reports and with the stuff that Sonny had tonight. Scouting reports were kind of a moot point, but you just keep doing what you've been doing the whole game.

Q.  The fact that you and Sonny were in Triple‑A during the season and you've come up to this point, I know you had extreme confidence coming into tonight. What was it that made you two be the focal point of this game?

STEPHEN VOGT:  I mean, opportunity. It was great. Just to have the trust to be able to do it. Knowing that we had worked together for so many innings throughout the year, we were talking before the game, Hey, it's just like this lineup is similar to a lineup in Triple‑A.

Obviously they're a little bit better than that, but similar‑type hitters and to think about it that way, rather than think about the names. Sonny kept his composure. He didn't get rattled when people got on base. He made pitches and competed all night.

Q.  Are his bullpens always that accurate of a litmus test about how he will be in a game, and what Triple‑A team did you think most resembled the Tigers in?

STEPHEN VOGT:  Sonny is calm in the bullpen, I kinda watch his body language more than where he is throwing his pitches. His body language was fine. He was getting loose, staying calm. He wasn't upset with the pitches he was throwing. He was getting loose like he does every game.

And actually, the Fresno Grizzlies have a lot of similar lineup, aggressive hitters and things like that. (Laughter.)

Sonny Gray Oct. 5 postgame interview

Q.  Sonny, yesterday and before and after the game, you kind of gave us homilies about how it was all about the team, but deep inside, how excited were you to do this? When it came to game time, how exciting was it for you to have this opportunity?

SONNY GRAY:  It was very exciting, and I was really glad to get the opportunity. Like I said, I knew there was going to be a lot of adrenaline and however I was able to harness that adrenaline was going to be a big factor of in the game.

Coming out early, I wasn't as nervous, wasn't as amped up as I thought I would be. And it was awesome, because I was able to locate my pitches without being way too shakey, whatever.

Q.  Vogt was in here talking about how you guys were joking around just like you were at Raley field. Is that familiarity that helped you guys out?

SONNY GRAY:  I think so. I've thrown to him all year. We started off in Sacramento together and we both made it here pretty much at the same time. He came a little bit before me.

But I've thrown to him all year. I threw to him every start in Sacramento except for maybe two, and he came up big for us. It was awesome to be in that moment, for him to be in that moment because you knew he was going to get the job done.

Q.  Sonny, was there a point where you thought I'm matching pitch‑to‑pitch with Verlander, this is really something?

SONNY GRAY:  Not really. I wasn't watching him pitch. I was just sitting in the dugout, just getting myself ready for the next inning. I knew he was obviously throwing the ball well, but I wasn't really looking into it as facing Justin Verlander, because if I do that, one of their hitters is going to get you, because they've got one of the best lineups in all of baseball.

So I had to more focus on their hitters rather than who I was facing, the opposing pitcher.

Q.  Focusing on their hitters, like you said, one of the best lineups in baseball. What is your main approach or goal in facing them? What do you try to do in that situation?

SONNY GRAY:  Like I said the other day, focus on your strengths. When you're in a hole, just go to your strengths, go with what got you here. And for me, it was being able to throw my curveball and fastball, and in situations where they might be sitting on a curveball.

I thought we did that really well tonight, Vogty, he called a great game because he really stuck with what we have been doing well in Sacramento and so far up here. That was the game plan, even coming from Curt, just go with your strengths and what's got us here.

Q.  After that pitch to Torii, you hit 96 a bunch of times to him and to Migg. Was there more about that moment to get the outs or can you talk about that?

SONNY GRAY:  He's been one of my favorite players growing up, watching him play. I remember my first Spring Training facing him when he was with the Angels, he had a line drive up the middle and almost took my head off. He's a great guy. He is known as a really great guy and it got me fired up a little bit. It did.

After that, I had a little extra adrenaline, I really did. I was able to still locate the ball though, so that was what it was.