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October 6, 2012

Jim Leyland


Detroit – 3
Oakland – 1

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

Q.  Difference in Verlander's fastball command early versus middle of the game and onward?
JIM LEYLAND:  I really think the big thing is this was his seventh day, and I think it took him a while to get back into sync.  It's been six days.  This is his seventh day since he pitched.  He's a real routine guy.
So I think probably a little bit out of sync early because of that.  But as the game went on, you know, he started to get his command real good and obviously pitched a fantastic game.

Q.  Can you talk about Berry's speed, maybe making things a little more difficult for them on that go‑ahead run for you?
JIM LEYLAND:  Well, that's why he's been in there.  We've been playing that lineup against the right‑hand pitcher.  We'll go with our left hand lineup tomorrow.  He's created some things for us, obviously.
And he's really given us a little life and spark.  So he did a good job tonight as did all the guys.  I thought Parker pitched very well as well.
We're fortunate there.  And of course Alex got the big blow to give us a little cushion.

Q.  Talk about Benoit and Valverde finishing out the game for you, pretty clean.
JIM LEYLAND:  Seems like there's been some general comments made that people are a little concerned about our bullpen.  I'm not concerned about our bullpen.
I've said that all along.  I have the utmost confidence in those guys.  And those are the guys.  If they don't do it, they don't do it.  But they're our guys.  I think that's pretty simple.
They did a great job tonight against a team that can strike at any time, particularly with the long ball.  Moss and Reddick in particular, Cespedes.
It's a real good team and a real dangerous team, and they both pitched very well.

Q.  Talk about the stretch Verlander had.  Five straight strikeouts.  Is that about as impressive as you've seen him be?
JIM LEYLAND:  His stuff is what it is, very good stuff with a bunch of above‑average Major League pitches.  Nothing surprises you with him.
As I said, out of sync a little bit early because of the longer layoff, but got into the groove pretty well toward the end.  And it turned out almost perfect, as far as the pitch count, right at 120.
So that certainly wasn't bad either.

Q.  Could you talk about the importance of the first game, the first victory, especially in a short series?
JIM LEYLAND:  Well, people talk about that all the time.  But I've always looked at it like you've got to win three games.  I've never put much emphasis on this game or that game.
I mean, the common denominator is you've got to win three games somehow.  So it's pretty simple, really.  We've got to win two more and they've got to win three.  So it is what it is.

Q.  Can you tell us what your thoughts were as Moss's ball headed to right field?
JIM LEYLAND:  I'm sorry?

Q.  Could you tell us what your thoughts were as Moss's ball headed to right field?
JIM LEYLAND:  I thought‑‑ I talked about this with the coaches.  I thought that a right‑hander, because he didn't seem to be carrying as much to right field.
The wind was blowing out to left field.  So I talked to the coaches earlier that I was going to be careful of getting Coke in a situation where bring him in and they could pinch hit Gomes or Carter, one of their big guys, with the wind blowing out to left.
So it played out pretty good.  I didn't think it was gone.  I thought he just missed it.  And he did just miss it.

Q.  Can you just talk about the contributions that you got from the bottom of the order tonight, specifically Alex Avila and how important that is for this team to succeed as well?
JIM LEYLAND:  Well, when you get in these situations, it's really no different than the regular season.  You need contributions from everybody, because everybody's always focused in on the big guys, which is very normal.
But if you're going to win and move on, obviously you've got to get some contributions from a lot of people.  So that was a big blow for us, obviously.  Infante hit a double down at the bottom of the lineup there.
It wasn't like we just blistered them all around.  I thought Parker was very good.  It's a very deep bullpen with four left‑handers, and you knew they were going to stack up pretty good with lefties, probably for Prince mostly.
But, yeah, if you're going to win, there's usually some reasons.  I thought quietly Jhonny Peralta, they made a very good play early in the game where we got the force out at second base.
So we did a lot of good things tonight.  It was a nice clean game for both teams, really, and a good baseball game, good playoff game.

Q.  Everybody was aware how worn down Alex Avila was down the stretch out of necessity and situation with the knee.  You were able to bring in Laird in the offseason to try to manage his workload.  If you can have him fresh here in the postseason, how much of a difference do you think it makes for you?
JIM LEYLAND:  I thought the last month or so he was pretty fresh because Gerald has been playing against all the left‑handers.  I think he's stretching it quite a bit.  That would be huge for us.
But we're not getting away from what we do.  We're going to play our left‑hand lineup and right‑hand lineup.  Gerald will catch tomorrow.  Garcia will be in right field.  We're not going to change anything.  That's what we've been doing, and we've been winning some games, and that's the way it will stay.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Jim.

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