10/11/06 1:08 AM ET
Jim Leyland postgame interview
Tigers manager happy with team's patience
By / MLB.com
JIM LEYLAND:Well, we were dodging bullets all night from the get go. From the first inning on we were pretty much in trouble all night. It's hard to believe that the game really ended with them only having one run. That won't happen again. You know, we had some counts in our favor, four times, 0-2, they got hits on pitches 0-2. They just kept putting the pressure on us. We didn't make good enough pitches when we had the count in our favor, and that got us in trouble. But it comes to playoff time, you do whatever you think you have to do to win the game. That's what we're going to try to do.
It seemed like Blanton was the first one to get to Zito early. Can you talk about his game today and how important he was?
JIM LEYLAND:I thought all of us showed pretty good patience. You know, Inge obviously had a pretty good game. I thought we all showed pretty good patience against Barry. He's a good pitcher and he doesn't show you the same look very often. He's in and out and cuts it and obviously curves it real good. We were fortunate tonight, because I thought we had some pretty good bats against a very outstanding pitcher.
With Casey gone there, what does that look like? And what are you likely to do if he has to miss any extended period of time?
JIM LEYLAND:Well, I'm going to just play that by ear. I'm sure everybody in here is aware you cannot replace somebody during this series, so it's not like you can activate Shelton. Those are the rules. We'll have to go with the combination of Santiago and Perez and Infante and Guillen at first base, and we'll have to get through it the best we can. We don't really know the extent of it yet, but it's 100 percent that he will not play tomorrow. Friday is probably a long shot but a possibility, but with the reports of the weather in Detroit I don't know if that will be feasible or not, but we'll just have to play it by ear.
What did you say to Nate Robertson when he walked to the mound in the 4th inning with two men on base?
JIM LEYLAND:I basically just told him, "Don't worry about the two runners that are already on. You've got to make your pitches, though, from here on out, and don't worry if those two runs score. Don't let this thing open up trying to not let anybody score and consequently you open up a huge inning and let three or four score. Just from this point on, just try to make good pitches to the hitters and forget about the runners. If those two runs score we're still in command of the game at that point." Fortunately he struck out the side.
You talked about your patience. Was that something that you specifically emphasized going against Zito or in this series in particular?
JIM LEYLAND:To be honest with you, I think really playing the Yankees, it really kind of helped us with our offensive approach, because we mentioned something about how patient the Yankees were and how they made the pitcher work and everything. And I think by talking about that so much I think some of our guys picked up on it. We're a little bit better than we were. We're not home free yet. We're pretty much a free swinging team. But I thought in the Yankees series and then again tonight we've shown as much basis as we have all year, so hopefully that's contagious.
Not much has gone wrong since Robertson fell behind 5-0 at Yankee Stadium a week ago. Can you talk about how well the team has played these four games?
JIM LEYLAND:We've had some nice combinations going. We were really fortunate tonight. We dodged a bullet tonight. We just put too many guys out there and we were very fortunate. I think we've been in pretty good sync with a combination of good pitching and some timely hitting, and that usually means that you've got a chance to win a ballgame. You know, when you don't have those things going, that's the other side of the combination; that's not good. For the last few days we've had that combination going of some good pitching, good bullpen work, and some timely hitting. That usually means you have an opportunity to win a ballgame, and that's what we did.
Some people considered it somewhat of a gamble starting your No. 4 pitcher. Does it bother you when people second guess you like that, and do you feel like you made a point?
JIM LEYLAND:I don't have a No. 4 pitcher. I never believed in that. I don't believe in a No. 1. I think, to me, you've got five starters, and my No. 1 pitcher is the guy starting that night. I don't really put them in order. I don't know who the No. 1 pitcher is. Nate Robertson fell into place for us, that's the way we went. We're going to use four starters, and obviously I explained the Kenny Rogers thing. I think a lot of people were expecting we'd pitch him out here at some point, but we felt he exerted so much energy in that Yankee start, and he also pitches well at home and it was also lined up that he'd pitch Game Three and Game Seven out here. I don't really worry. To be honest with you, I think it's good when people have opinions and they can talk about them and write about them, but to be honest with you, it's not going to change what I did, what I think gives our team the best chance to win.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.