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AL DIVISION SERIES: TIGERS v ATHLETICS


October 11, 2012


Jim Leyland


OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: Game Five

Q. You've obviously been through games like this many, many times. As you look back across them what generally wins these games; is it pitching? Is there something that you think about those games?
JIM LEYLAND: I don't think there's one set thing. You don't know what's going to happen tonight. It could be an error, could be a bloop hit, could be a passed ball, could be a home run. Who knows. Nobody knows. The mystery of it is a great part of it.

Q. Seeing what Joe Girardi did last night, pinch‑hitting for Alex Rodriguez.
JIM LEYLAND: I'm not going to pinch‑hit for Cabrera (laughter).

Q. To see that kind of a move, and maybe Bruce Bochy using Tim Lincecum out of the bullpen and some of these creative things. Are those things that you have to do at this stage of the season?
JIM LEYLAND: You have to be prepared for everything. You try to be prepared for everything. We felt like we got the game where we wanted it last night and it didn't work out.
And I know this sounds crazy, because we were all a little heartbroken. I wasn't as upset as everybody was last night and I'll tell you why. We didn't walk them. We didn't hit a batter. We didn't make an error. We didn't throw the ball away. We didn't make a bad fundamental play. They beat us. They earned it. They hit the ball. They stroked the ball off Valverde good last night.
Were we all a little heartbroken? Sure. But you know what, they earned it. We didn't kick the ball around. He didn't walk guys. Nobody made a stupid mistake. That's the beauty of the game, and they earned it. It hurt, but, you know, it's one of those that you just tip your hat to them. They got the closer, and you tip your hat to them.

Q. How would you characterize the demeanor of the team today after that tough loss?
JIM LEYLAND: The mood of my team?

Q. Yes.
JIM LEYLAND: I would say they're pretty normal, to be honest with you. I usually don't go out there a lot in the clubhouse. I think that's their place, that's their house. I walk through once in a while. But everybody seems to be pretty normal to me. I'm not really sure what they're supposed to be doing. They do what they do every other day. They're getting ready to play Game 5 of a five‑game series.
I think you find out over the years that I never try to intrude on their privacy, because I think different players get ready for games in different fashions. Some guys listen to music. Some guys maybe meditate. Some guys joke around. Some guys ‑‑ and I like them to all have their own personal touch. So I really never mess with that.

Q. During this season, when Verlander has pitched well, what has been the thing that you have seen in him that has indicated to you this is a great night for him and when he has pitched poorly what has been a common thing that has been something not right that told you it's not going to happen?
JIM LEYLAND: I think the fact that he's pitched a while now, experienced in that case. We talked yesterday about experience in postseason. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about him maturing as a person and a pitcher I think has really helped him. I think I'm answering your question.
He gets hyped up a little bit. I'm sure they're going to work the pitch count early tonight. If you're throwing strikes you really can't work the pitch count. That's the one thing you worry about Verlander is it's not so much that they're working the count, it's that they foul pitches off, which gets his pitch count up.
I think the first inning will be a big inning for him, to settle in with everything that's going on. And I think he'll be good no matter what. But I think the first inning will be a big inning.

Q. Your bullpen, is everybody available tonight including Valverde, and all the roles stay the same tonight?
JIM LEYLAND: Sure.

Q. Curious how you kill a day like this. Are you watching baseball, the early games like everybody else? And also Tony was around a couple of days, I don't think he's around today, but did you get a chance to hang out with him?
JIM LEYLAND: I don't think he's hanging around today because his daughter is getting married today. If he's here today he's really dedicated (laughter).

Q. Did you get a chance to sit down with him or have lunch with him?
JIM LEYLAND: No, I didn't. But I had a chance after Game 3. He came in and visited for a while. I knew that she was getting married today. He texted me last night after the game and he said he'd love to be here, but he decided he'd better go to the wedding ‑‑ no, I'm just kidding (laughter).
Yeah, I did talk with him. I had a nice talk with him.

Q. Did you watch the games today?
JIM LEYLAND: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I watched the games at the hotel. My wife and I watched the first game, the Giants‑Cincinnati game. Watched the last inning or two out here. And we just watched Werth hit a walk‑off. And we'll probably be out for BP, we'll watch some of the Yankee game.
But, yeah, that's what we do. And this time of year is pretty exciting. They're pumped up in Washington right now. It's been great. So far it's been a great postseason. What happened in New York last night is mind boggling to me, that blows my mind, that a guy ties it up in the 9th with a homer, and hits the game winner in the 12th. It's unbelievable. We're just trying to keep you guys working.

Q. We always ask players how they handle nerves on a day like this on an elimination game. In the case of a manager, once you make certain decisions, you decide the lineup and make moves during the game, the players are the ones who really decide who wins and loses, it's basically out of your hands. How do you handle your own anxiety in those moments when you're waiting to see what happens?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think whatever happens, happens. I think you're supposed to have anxiety, I think it's a good thing. I don't think it's good to keep it in. The heart gets pumping a little bit more obviously. But for me that starts with day one of the season. You know the players are the show. You want the players to be the show. They are the show. You kind of stay in the background, you orchestrate things if you need to orchestrate things. But this stuff belongs to the players.
But it's actually harder to sit there ‑‑ I mean, I was only a minor league player, but I can tell you for a fact that it's harder to sit there and manage than it was to play, because you're involved in it. When you're playing it's a whole different gig.
It gets a little hairy, the heart was pumping pretty good last night. And that's a good thing. Like I said, it's better than not pumping (laughter).

Q. How quickly after last night's, as you describe, heartbreak ended, is there a little bit of comfort immediately knowing that you do have Verlander going today?
JIM LEYLAND: I didn't even think about that. All I thought about last night was that we lost a tough game. Thinking about my lineup today. Thinking about what their lineup is probably going to be. I went back to the hotel, to be honest with you, I slept great.
I don't want to sound casual about this kind of stuff, because don't get me wrong, the game broke our heart. But at the same time you learn over the years that, like I always use the expression, you can't chew yesterday's breakfast. The game is over. They beat us. They earned it. They had a great celebration on the field. Game 5 is going to be exciting. It's going to be loud. This is what we do for a living.

Q. Because there are, as you said, starters could be available to pitch in other roles today, who among your starting pitchers is accustomed to warming up quickly. Who is suited to come into a role?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, we're going to have Fister sitting around, probably, for tonight, you're talking about. But ‑‑ and I don't want to put this all on one guy, because I don't mean it that way, but this game will probably be decided with Verlander in the game. I don't have anybody better than him. And if they get to him that much we'll probably be in trouble. That's just common sense. I don't have anybody signal down to the bullpen no matter who you're talking about. I don't have anybody better to bring in than Justin Verlander, unless the pitch count gets way up or he just is totally, totally out of whack.
But I'm pretty sure this game will be decided by him. I'm not taking him out if they get two runs in the first inning, I'm not taking him out, I can assure you of that because I don't have anybody better to bring in.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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