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October 16, 2012

Jim Leyland


Detroit Tigers – 2
New York Yankees – 1

THE MODERATOR:  Jim is on his way to the microphone.  Who has the first question for Joe tonight?

Q.  What you've seen out of Verlander, not only tonight but in earlier starts, would you say this is the year, Jim, that he has pitched more than he has thrown, even compared with last year?
JIM LEYLAND:  Well, I don't think there is any question about it.  I talk about it all the time with all the players, Austin Jackson, young players, it is a maturity thing.
He's learn to handle these situations.  He's learned how to stay pretty calm throughout the game in these big‑game situations.
And I don't think there is any question about it, he matured a lot.  When you reach that maturity point and that kind of stuff, that is a pretty good combination.

Q.  Jim, you went out to the mound in the ninth inning to talk to Justin.  Was that to tell him he had one more hitter?
JIM LEYLAND:  Basically I asked him, I said, You have one more hitter?  And he said yes.  So I gave him Gardner.  And then Suzuki I believe swings at him all night, Ichiro.  And normally I guess you don't take Secretary out in the final furlong, but that was pretty much it for him.  I was not going to let him face Ichiro.

Q.  Jim, just your thoughts on being up 3‑0 in this thing now.
JIM LEYLAND:  Well, we are facing one of the best pitchers in baseball tomorrow.  We have an excellent pitcher going for us.  And obviously CC is one of the best in the business, so we have a lot of work ahead of us.
This is a great team.  I thought Joe Girardi did an unbelievable job handling his pitching staff tonight under adverse conditions.  And losing your starter like that, I thought he was unbelievable.  I thought he made every perfect move with his pitching.
They are going to be tough to beat.  They are the New York Yankees.  They are a great team.  All teams at this time of year are hard to beat.  They are hard to beat during the regular season.  They are really hard to beat during the postseason.
So we're fortunate, certainly, obviously.  We put ourselves in a decent position, but that's all we have done.

Q.  Jim, what did you learn about Coke tonight, particularly the way he went after Ibañez and finished him off with the off‑speed pitch?
JIM LEYLAND:  I was really glad he threw the breaking ball, because he got in the point where it was probably a fastball count, but a lot of times 3‑2, guys are gearing up.  They say on the fastball sometimes you can‑‑it may have been the best curveball he has thrown all year.
So we are very fortunate, and he did a terrific job.  He will be off tomorrow.

Q.  Jim, coming into the season, the defense was kind of seen as a question mark, but they had a really strong night and busy night.  Talk about their development.
JIM LEYLAND:  We mentioned this in the pregame press conference, we are playing pretty good.  We're playing pretty good in all areas of the game right now.  I'd like to get a few more runs, take a little pressure off, but you don't get a lot of runs in postseason play because you are facing an excellent pitcher every day out.
So we're playing pretty good right now, but we still‑‑ believe me, we have a long way to go.

Q.  Jim, you said before Game 1 how important it was going to be to get Delmon going, and he's been big for you guys this series.  How nice is it to see him come through the way he has so far?
JIM LEYLAND:  He had a great postseason last year and he picked up right where he left off.  A huge hit tonight.  If you watched the game, it probably worked for all of us.
The wind was blowing in most of the night.  So the only way you were going to hit one out was probably the way Nuñez did it and the way Delmon did on the line.  If you saw fly balls going tonight, not that they were home runs, but they were hit pretty decent and the wind held them up.  And he hit a rocket out of there, just as Nuñez did for him.
That's pretty much the only way you will hit a home run tonight, unless you really, really centered one.

Q.  If Coke is not available tomorrow, will Valverde be back in the closer role?
JIM LEYLAND:  I will play it by ear.  We have a bunch of guys down there.  And, you know, I have so much respect for him, because one of the happiest faces in the clubhouse after the game and pumping the guys up was Valverde.  And that's what the team is all about.
Will I use him tomorrow?  Yes.  Will I use him for sure?  I can't answer that right now.  We will see how it plays out.  But Coke will not be available tomorrow.

Q.  What does it say about Verlander that he only struck out three guys tonight yet was this dominant?
JIM LEYLAND:  Well, I just think that tonight he made them mis‑hit the ball pretty good.  This is a tremendous hitting team with big‑time power and it's a difficult lineup to manage against.  So I thought he was absolutely terrific.
But I think more on the mental side I have been more impressed with the way he is handling these bigger situations now.  He has matured a lot and I am impressed with the way he is handling it.
Like I said, he is a terrific pitcher.  And you don't have to strike everybody out to get outs.  You can make them mis‑hit the ball now and then.  That's okay, too.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Jim.

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