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October 5, 2006

Marcus Thames

Justin Verlander


Q. Justin, when you saw Leyland coming out to the mound with a 1-1 count, mid at-bat, they showed a shot of you on TV and obviously you looked a little bit surprised. What were you thinking?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, that was the first time all year I've been taken out mid-count like that.
Obviously I was disappointed. I think anybody that's competitive wants to be out there and have the ball, but, you know, I have the utmost faith in our bullpen and Jamie came in and did a great job for us.

Q. What does this show to the rest of the country? I think some of you guys feel that you've been overlooked and underestimated?
MARCUS THAMES: Just the 25 guys in the clubhouse, we never give up and that's the main thing. We have a great leader in Skipper and he won't let us give up until we've played until the last out in the ninth inning.

Q. For a guy who was drafted by this organization to come in here in this setting, what does it mean to you what you've done?
MARCUS THAMES: It's a lot. Every time I come here I'm going to do something. I was drafted by the Yankees, I had my first Major League hit here and every time I come here, I want to do something.
It's exciting to be in the post-season, playing against them, you know, being in their Minor League system, watching them go to the playoff and championships all the time and wanting to be a piece of that and I wasn't. Now being part of the Tigers versus the Yankees, it's been an awesome feeling so far.

Q. You were sick there for a while, and it's almost like you came off your death bed or something, got three hits today and everybody is in wonderment, you haven't played in a while, and it's like you're red hot.
MARCUS THAMES: I had a tough bug, I couldn't eat or swallow food or drink water and I lost about five or six pounds and I was weak for a little while. Now I'm back, healthy and ready and ready to help the ballclub however I can.

Q. You pitched a great ballgame, you seem a little surprised when Jim came out, did he tell you why he was taking you out?

Q. Well, he told us, I'll tell you, he said because you're speed had been so high and all of a sudden it was falling off to 92 and he thought maybe you were losing it just a bit.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I had a good indication that it was that. Obviously I didn't know exactly what I was throwing. You know this is the first time in a while I think I've gotten up to over a hundred. I think that concerned him a little bit.
He's a great Skip, and when he comes out to take me out of the ballgame, I never second guess him.

Q. As someone who was taken full advantage of an opportunity to play every day this year, or a lot this year, what does it mean to you personally to come through when it means the most right now?
MARCUS THAMES: Just go back to the time when I was down and out in the Minor Leagues and not given a chance to play in the big leagues. Just try to take advantage of it. You know, whenever my name is called upon and my name is on the lineup card I want to go out and do something to help the ballclub. Whichever way that is, if I come in and pinch-hit or start the ballgame, I just want to do something to help the ballclub.

Q. Is it nice not to prove yourself?
MARCUS THAMES: It's awesome, every time you go to the plate, you know you're going to have another at-bat and it gives you a lot of confidence.

Q. Is the family gathering together in Mississippi and what does this mean?
MARCUS THAMES: Yeah, probably everybody's watching and is at my grandmother's house. Everybody is tuning in. They are all excited. They know the long road I've been on to get to this point and they are excited and cheering me on.

Q. For both guys, it's been a while since you've won a baseball game and coming off the field it almost sounded like Game 5, you just clinched it. What was the feeling to finally just get back on the winning side?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Well, you know, I know for me, it was -- this was extremely exciting. You know, this was a huge win for us. There's no doubt about that. You know, to go home even instead of down two, you know, there's no doubt about it, this was a big game for our team and our confidence.

Q. Back to when Leyland came out to get you, what's it like playing for a guy who does not necessarily manage by the book and just sort of goes by feel?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think it's great. He's very personable. He knows when to push guys and when not to, he just knows how handle people. That comes through in his managing. He knows a lot of times to go on his instincts and what moves he thinks are right. He thought it was a great move to bring me out and bring Jamie in in that situation, and obviously it was the right call.

Q. I don't know if you were aware of this or not, but you're 6 out of 7 against Mike Mussina in your career, and he's a great pitcher; why do you have a knack for hitting him of all pitchers?
MARCUS THAMES: I don't know, I just try to be very aggressive against him. I know he's not going to give in to me. So I go up and try to be aggressive and try to get a good pitch to hit and that's what I've been doing against him?

Q. Just curious, do you have any piece of memorabilia from being drafted with the Yankees, your time with them, pair of shorts, anything?
MARCUS THAMES: Trust me, I have a lot of stuff. I have the ball, I have my first glove that I had. When you get drafted they give you a glove. I have a lot of that stuff, trust me.

Q. As starters, you guys were first in the League and I think your bullpen was second in the League. The thought is usually if your starter can keep you in the game, with the way the bullpen has pitched this year, how much easier does that make it on you to try and go out and do just that, keep the team in the game and not try to do too much?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: That's a huge part of it, knowing that, you know, if we keep our team close, if I can go -- usually if I go six innings, that gives our team a great chance if we're close, because a lot of times, our bullpen comes in and shuts the door and allows our offense to try to come back; or if we're ahead, the bullpen comes in and shuts the door and maintains the lead just like they did tonight.

End of FastScripts...

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