10/05/06 5:26 PM ET
Jim Leyland postgame interview
Leyland discussed his how his pitching staff faced the Yankees lineup
By / MLB.com
JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, well, I thought he still had his good stuff. I just didn't like the fastball before that. It was 92. The one Matsui was hitting was 92. I just said, you know, this is it, I'm going to make my move now. I know there's a count on the hitter but I'm going to make it right now.
Just all of a sudden, your instincts take over and say, look, this is just not right, and I'm going to make my move. I made it, fortunately Walker made the move look okay.
Verlander and Zumaya, rookies coming into this setting; can you just talk about how impressed you were with what they did?
JIM LEYLAND: You know, I talked to Joe Morgan about the fifth inning, and like Joe said, they had Verlander in trouble, but the point I made, an average pitcher would have been out of the game. But because of his quality stuff, you know, that early in the game like when he was in trouble, he's still good enough to make some pitches because his stuff is so good.
I mean, if the Yankees get just a guy with ordinary stuff in a situation like that, they are probably going to score a bunch of runs and the game is over. Verlander, his stuff being as good as it is, he had a good curveball, he's capable of getting some outs, as long as it's early enough.
Joe just told us, and told us this morning too, one thing that he likes about you is that you don't necessarily manage by the book, you manage by feel. How would you describe your style, in terms of pulling guys in 1-1 counts and doing whatever you need to do?
JIM LEYLAND: I manage according to my players and what I see and to what's in the heart to be honest with you. That's just the way I go about it. There's some things that are in black and white on your charts, 4 for 8 or 5 for 6, but just can't always do that. And sometimes -- those were the best guys I had to put in in the situation today. They just did a great job like they had done all year. I don't really have a style. The players dictate what type of style you have, and fortunately, our players have done a good job and we've been having a pretty good year.
What can you say about Granderson, the way he's stepped up on this stage the last couple days?
JIM LEYLAND: He's had some great at-bats and that's what you have to do against like a Moose, he's a great pitcher. As you saw today, our report was great. I mean, he never threw the same pitch hardly and that's what makes him so tough.
This was just a great playoff game. I think the thing that I'm happiest about is the fact that, I hope, and I'm sure we haven't convinced everybody, because obviously nobody knows how this thing is going to play out. It's 1-1. But I hope in my heart that everybody realizes that we are a playoff team, and I hope that we at least proved that today. To do what we did today with those kids pitching and everything and the way we played the game, I hope at least everybody believes that we're worthy of being in the playoffs, because I'm not sure everybody believed that.
After the home run and then the subsequent hit, I'm not asking you to tell me exactly what you said to Verlander but you were very emphatic when you went out, what was the message at that point to him?
JIM LEYLAND: I just told him, look, we have to score runs anyway and you just have to make sure you don't lose your composure now and you're concentrating, continue making pitches because we're going to continue to score runs. It's not going to end like this. Just keep making your pitches and don't lose composure and get flustered and start flying all over the place waiting for something negative to happen. Continue making your pitches, your stuff is real good today and you have a chance to hold them down.
That was basically the message. And you're right, I was pretty emphatic about it.
For a team that has not convinced everybody by your own statements, how difficult is it in Yankee Stadium, how different is Yankee Stadium for a new team in the playoffs?
JIM LEYLAND: I don't think Yankee Stadium is any different. You know what makes Yankee Stadium different? It's the same thing that made Shea Stadium different in the early 60s. Everybody talked about Shea Stadium being a tough, tough place to hit. Yeah, it was, because they had Seaver, Koosman, Ryan. That's why it was a tough place to hit. There was some years where Shea Stadium was not a tough place to hit at all. Same thing with Atlanta.
So it's not Yankee Stadium. It's the players that the Yankees have. They are fantastic. This is a fantastic team. I don't think it has anything to do with the stadium. I mean that sincerely. The Yankees played this stadium when they have not had some good teams and they have not done very well. So it's not the magic of the stadium. It's the magic of the Yankee players. They are real good.
People have been talking for weeks about the great batting lineup, batting power, strength. Your guys come in, surprised them a little bit, don't you think so?
JIM LEYLAND: To be honest with you, I think we caught a big break, and I don't want to take anything away from our club. But if you look, the shadows were pretty tough as it got late in the game. And you've got a guy throwing 98, 99, 100 miles an hour with shadows, that make the hitting conditions very tough for both teams. Particularly, like I said, when a guy can throw at 100. I tip my hat to Zumaya and our team, but we also caught a break with the time of day it was.
All year, from Spring Training on, you put the ball in Verlander's and Zumaya's hands and they have produced for you and the moment never seems to bother them, they have all the talent in the world but they were not nervous about this at all and came through for you. Can you talk about some of their fortitude they have in addition to their 100-mile-an-hour fastballs?
JIM LEYLAND: Like I say, when you have that kind of physical equipment, you have good composure. Doc Gooden, he had good composure, but when you throw at 98 hook off the table, you're bound to have composure. Our guys, they are tough. We've got some tough kids, and you know, today they pitched against some tough men. So that made it -- you know, like I said, it was a great playoff game, and you know, obviously a little more great because we won it.
But it was just a great atmosphere, playoff baseball, and like I said, I just hope that we convinced people that we belong in the playoffs.
The first inning seemed to be a key when Verlander got out of that, with the way he pitched to a A-Rod, 98, 99-mile-an-hour fastball and breaking ball. And the umpire, there were a couple ready borderline pitches that didn't go his way, but he seemed to hold it together. What did Hernandez say when he went out there?
JIM LEYLAND: He just tried to calm him down and made sure he didn't overthrow it. We knew his curveball would be a big pitch and if he had that pitch going when he needed it, it was probably going to be a big uplift for him and he had that curveball going. And of course he got A-Rod on the curveball at that particular time at that particular at-bat. We felt like if we had that one going and the fastball going, we had a chance.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.