ALCS Game 4: Leyland on impact of lineup changes

Q. Was the biggest benefit of shaking up the lineup the fact that Jackson seemed a little more relaxed?

JIM LEYLAND: Jackson did a good job. All the guys did. I don't know if that had anything to do with it, I doubt it very much.

The players executed tonight, they did a heck of a job. Fister battled, Peavy battled, Torii Hunter got a huge hit. We were ready to play. They were ready to play. And Doug and Peavy were competing.

Like I said, we were the beneficiary of a couple of walks that one inning. I was proud of the guys, they came out ready to play. And like I said, Fister was ready to battle.

Q. The way you played the matchup game in the seventh inning with the relief pitchers, is that what we can expect to see the rest of the series?

JIM LEYLAND:  Yeah, well, I'd rather get in a situation where a guy could go one full inning, preferably. But when guys get on like that, then you have to mix and match a little bit. I was hoping Cokey could get Ellsbury out, he was 1‑for‑11 off of him going into that at‑bat. He didn't get it, so we had to make some adjustments. And we were fortunate to get out of it a little bit. But you just do as a manager what you think you have to do to win the game. And that's what we did tonight and that's what we've been doing all year.

Q. In the second you talked about how your team took advantage of what was really a four‑out inning and the walks that you did draw.

JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, we did. That's a sign of a good team. This game tonight was very significant when you saw two teams, in my opinion, I think the two best teams are playing for the American League Championship, that's my personal opinion. And you saw how this is such a dangerous team. They just never quit. They've got a bunch of veterans.

Like I said, Oakland didn't have quite as many veterans and they battled and ground it out. And now we play with a team that has more veterans and grind it out. They're very tough. And I think we showed tonight that we're tough, too.

Q. Talking about the lineup, I mean Hunter hadn't batted lead‑off since 2000. Cabrera hadn't been in the lead. Who had input, was it all your idea?

JIM LEYLAND: I was laying on my couch at home last night watching the Dodgers and the Cardinals, and I kept thinking, because I didn't disagree with anybody saying we needed something. I felt like fans, members of the media, myself, probably the players, if the truth be known, I think something had to be done. I don't want to say this had anything to do with it.

I thought about it long and hard, some people thought it would be maybe Kelly playing centerfield. But I didn't think that was the answer, I thought long and hard about it and this is what I came up with. This has nothing to do with Jim Leyland, this is about the players. They executed, they came out, they played well. It was really a good game for us, and Fister was tough. And we got through one. And the bullpen did a good job.

So we were very fortunate. And the series is tied. The only thing we know for sure is that we're going back to Boston.

Q. This might be overthinking it, you mentioned before the game players would take a second look at it. Do you think that had an impact that it they did say, oh, it's not normal?

JIM LEYLAND:  No, but they know I'm not normal. They've known that for a long time. But I think they knew pretty much because, like I said, I called my hitting coach Lloyd McClendon real early in the morning and I had him text the guys, so there would be no real shock when they came in. But I'm sure when they looked at it, they might not have believed when he texted them, but they believed it when they saw it. I don't know if they went whoa. And maybe sometimes just a jolt like that gets you back in sync a little bit.

And like I said, the players executed tonight. They played well against an outstanding team. And this is playoff baseball, and we'll see what happens. It's tied 2‑2, we're happy with that. We know we're going back to Boston for sure, either one up or one down. Really not a lot to say. We'll come out tomorrow and get after it again.

Q. What do you plan to do with the lineup card?

JIM LEYLAND: I'll throw it away.

Q. On eBay?

JIM LEYLAND: I'll throw it away, unless I can sell it to some bar on the way home (laughter).

I'm not really one of those guys. I don't save stuff. I was kidding the guys before the game today, I don't even ask for an autographed ball by anybody, because you can't read the names on it. I've got all kinds of baseballs, you don't know who they are. I don't need an autographed ball from my team or any other team.

Q. Will you go with the same exact lineup tomorrow? Would you think about anything, the one player who didn't break out for you was Fielder who continued to struggle, would you think of anything about him?

JIM LEYLAND:  I will go with the lineup tomorrow, yeah. I really think you have to. I will go with that same lineup tomorrow. And a lot of people contributed tonight and that was a good thing.

You have seen good pitching. It's not that easy. If you look at all the series, I think it's remarkable, if you looked at some of the batting averages from all the teams involved in the playoffs, and I'm including the National League, it's pretty shocking sometimes. It's just not that easy. It's hard. But I will go with this lineup tomorrow for sure.

Q. As hard as runs have been to get in this series, and I know Boston has the ability to come back, when you got those five was there a sense of letting out your breath a little bit in the dugout or a sense of relief?

JIM LEYLAND:  No, I was not comfortable until I saw the ball that Ortiz hit. I knew it wasn't out of the ballpark. You're not comfortable. I never get comfortable during the regular season. I've been around too long for that. I have an appreciation how fast things happen in a big league game. They happen fast. Particularly against a team like this, no, you're not relaxed a little bit until right now, really, to be honest with you. You go in the office and sit back and relax a little bit, but the heart is still pumping pretty good.

Q. In that lineup change, how much did you consider that it wouldn't just be Jackson who would have something changed, like dropping him, but that everyone was in the change.

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I tried to figure it out where it wouldn't really be drastic. I didn't want to have something drastic. I didn't want something to be comical. I just felt like ‑‑ I thought the biggest thing was to move Jackson out of the lead‑off spot and work around that however I felt would be the best way to do it. This is what I came up with.

Torii Hunter had some success against Peavy, so I thought that's a good lead‑off guy for tonight. He's tough, he's going to grind it. Not that Jackson doesn't. He came out a little bit tonight and hit the ball hard a couple of times, really hard. I was thrilled with it. I didn't want to turn it into a circus, I wanted to tweak it a little bit, and I felt like that was the way to tweak it.

Oct. 16 Austin Jackson postgame interview

ALCS Gm4: Jackson got word on lineup change via text

Q. Can you talk about what a relief this was and how sick you may have become of people asking you game after game, what's the matter, what's going wrong?

AUSTIN JACKSON:  Well, it felt good to contribute to a win and just relax, really, just get a chance to go out there and not put so much pressure on yourself, just have fun and relax and just play the game like you know how.

Q. I know the lead‑off spot only really has the distinction that first time up, but still when that first inning comes around and you're in the dugout and you're getting a chance to watch Peavy pitch to some of these other guys before you come up, how different of a feeling is it and how different did it feel when you got up there in the second inning, bases loaded, RBI situation?

AUSTIN JACKSON:  It felt a little different. Just hitting down in the order and coming up after guys have already hit and getting a chance to see what he's doing to guys. I think that it definitely helped to be able to get to see some of the pitches that he was throwing other guys and just have a game plan when you go up there.

Q. What was your reaction when you first heard you'd be eighth? Did any part of you think you didn't like it at first?

AUSTIN JACKSON:  Honestly, I really didn't have too much of a reaction. I know that I've been scuffling this postseason. It's not a secret. So I really didn't have too much of a reaction, you know, I was happy that I was still in there. That's a good thing. But I think the goal was just to give me ‑‑ get me to relax and just go out and play, don't put so much pressure on yourself.

Q. We were told that you guys got texted. I'm assuming that's how you found out, if that was. Where were you when you read the text? Did any part of you think either when you saw the text or maybe last night that you would actually maybe be benched for this game?

AUSTIN JACKSON:  I was actually in bed when I got the text. I was asleep. And that's what woke me up. That's kind of weird to wake up to that text message. But actually I didn't really have too much of a reaction to it. I was thinking it's probably going to come sooner or later. And I think it worked out for the best.

Q. Were you thinking that would come, like a lineup change or you would be sitting for a game?

AUSTIN JACKSON:  I was thinking a lineup change. That's something that when you're trying to get yourself going a little bit, you've got to mix things up.

Q. With the way the ball has been bouncing through the postseason, how surprised were you when the ball bounced off Pedroia's glove and you got the RBI single?

AUSTIN JACKSON:  It was a relief, really, to see that. I remember the other night hit a similar ball over there in the hole and he made a drive ‑‑ he made a great play on that. Once you see him leave his feet, he makes a lot of great diving plays. To see it bounce off his glove was just relief right there.

Q. You said it was nice to feel relaxed up there. At what point in the game did you start to feel relaxed?

AUSTIN JACKSON:  Well, I think after the walk, it definitely made me relax a little more. It was a big situation right there to try to get something done. And I think after I seen a couple of pitches I was able to kind of just take some deep breaths and relax a little bit. And not worry so much about the result, just try to get a good pitch, make sure you're seeing the ball and take some good swings when you get your pitch.

Q. Do you feel like if you were in the lead‑off spot today you would have had the same type of game that you did? Or did you think that the lineup shift actually did have some sort of effect?

AUSTIN JACKSON:  I have no idea if I would have ‑‑ if I would have had the same type of game. Being in that lead‑off spot, trying to get things going at the top, so I think that me moving down, it helped with just making me relax and be patient and just have fun, really. Not pressing so much up there. And like I said, I think that definitely helps.

Oct. 16 Doug Fister postgame interview

ALCS Gm4: Fister on momentum change after win

Q. You got a big lead today and everybody else has been in these knuckle‑gripping type of games. Did it change a little bit of your mindset or did you approach it the same thing with the lead?

DOUG FISTER: No, it's always the same approach for me. It's still, say, 0‑0 ballgame, no matter if it's 7‑0 or down 5. We're going to go out there and try to put up a zero every inning for them and get the offense back out there.

Q. You heard your manager talk about how things can change quickly. When Ortiz comes up in the third inning, did you feel that could be a pivotal at‑bat?

DOUG FISTER:  It doesn't matter who's at the plate or who's on. It's always a possibility of a game changer, and you really have to focus every pitch. These games are so tight, as he said, I mean, each ballgame has come down to one, maybe two pitches per team. And at that point you have to focus every time out. And if you make a mistake, it can cost you the game.

Q. Being down 2‑1, how big a game was this game for the Tigers?

DOUG FISTER:  I think it's definitely a momentum booster for us, and gives you us some confidence. But we've been down before. We've had our backs against the wall before. And it was a matter of today I think our whole team went out there with a sense of confidence and the fact that just said, hey, we're going to play loose baseball like we always do and not get too hyped up or put pressure on ourselves.

Q. Smyly was saying after the game this series has been like watching two heavy weights go after it.

DOUG FISTER:  That makes for a great series no matter what the turnout comes out with. We feel like we're one of the best teams in the American League right now. I think that's showing right now. We want it to be a good contest. It's mentally and physically draining every night, but that's what good baseball is all about.

Q. There's a lot of media attention, obviously, for the No. 1 and 2 pitchers, particularly with the Cy Young's and the ERA's, but how does that set a bar for you in your slot like, hey, I'm every bit as good as the other guys, if they're going to throw shutout ball for 6 innings, I can do it, too?

DOUG FISTER:  I don't look at it that way. I'm one of 25, going out there, and going to be pitching tonight with the teammates. And we're going to try to put up zeroes just like they are. Never want an opposing team to score one run. We don't look at it that way, I certainly don't. And it's a matter of we want to win the series, we want to move on and that's what it comes down to.

Q. Your curveball, particularly that 73 mile an hour job, that thing it looks as though it's taken on a little distinction of late, particularly with a little less velocity, is that the case in your mind?

DOUG FISTER:  I felt good with it tonight and that was part of the game plan was to throw it early. And it worked for me. I felt like I had pretty good control over it, being able to change speeds with it. And I think being able to throw that for strikes and for balls outside of the strike zone to possibly get some swings and misses on it, was definitely a benefit for me. It's one of the things that kept them off balance, and really tried to mix things up.