Oct. 13 Jim Leyland pregame interview

Oct. 13 Jim Leyland pregame interview

Q. Can you talk about your starting pitcher and why does he have such a tremendous season this year?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, he had a good year last year and he really found his mechanics and was able to stay consistent. He was in a groove mechanically. He's a real mechanical guy. Some pitchers are. Some aren't. He's real conscientious of his arm slot and everything, and he found that for the most part on a consistent basis. And he's got another year of experience.

Q. What do you think the difference has been with Justin Verlander in the postseason as opposed to the regular season?

JIM LEYLAND: If you look at the regular season, he gave up two runs or less. He was pitching pretty darn good. We get spoiled. And the record wasn't as significant as it has been in the past.

Q. Was there ever any question in your mind whether you'd bring Jhonny Peralta back after he served his suspension?

JIM LEYLAND: That was a decision made by Dave Dombrowski. That was a decision Dave Dombrowski made. We talked about it. And according to the rules you had to bring him back, and then you had to make a baseball decision whether you wanted to keep him or not, and that was a decision that Dave said that he would make.

Q. You felt comfortable with it?

JIM LEYLAND: Like I said, that was a decision that Dave made.

Q. Is there any sense in your mind that the bullpen might be strengthening in the same fashion as your starters appear they might be optimizing their stuff these days?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, they really came together last night, that's for sure. That's probably as good as a group pitched together. I mean, everybody came in here last night was phenomenal. We haven't had that all year long, obviously. But last night everybody fell into sync and was terrific. Hopefully that will carry on through the postseason.

Q. You mentioned the other day getting to the Final Four was the goal to get to this point. How hard is it in markets like New York and Boston and Detroit with the consistent success, people take it for granted that you'll make the playoffs and go deep? How hard is it to do that on a year to year basis?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think what you have to do is you have to try to figure out how you're going to live up to the expectations. You can't get consumed by the expectations. I think you have to figure out how we're going to live up to those expectations. And that's the attitude we took all spring. We can't hide from the expectations, they're there now, which is a good thing, because that means you have a good team. What I tried to emphasize in Spring Training is don't get caught up in the expectations, but how we're going to live up to those expectations.

Q. Can you give us your thinking on your shortstop, leftfield decisions today?

JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, Peralta is playing short and Kelly is playing left.

Q. Could you explain?

JIM LEYLAND: What do you want to explain? That's the same way I played the other night in the final Game 5 of the Championship Series. Very simple. I thought that would give us your best chance to win tonight.

Q. Having a guy like Verlander in your rotation, how much pressure or load does that take off the younger guys?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I don't really know about that. Sometimes we're a talented staff, so I think that the common thing for everybody to say, well, do they feed off each other, it sounds good, reads good, I don't know if they do or not.

We've got five good starting pitchers, and when it's their day to pitch, they go out and do the best they can. I don't think they're in competition with one another, I think they're in competition with the opposing team. Everybody wants to perform well.

When you have guys like Scherzer and Verlander and Fister and Sanchez, Porcello, that's pretty good. I've always emphasized yeah, it's nice to have a horse. But at the same time the most important pitcher for me is the guy that's pitching that day. I mean, that's just the way it works.

Say you've got a No. 1 starter, he only pitches once every five days. If you win one and lose the other four, you don't do too good in this business.

I don't know if they feed off each other. Like Boston and several other teams, they have an outstanding rotation, we have an outstanding rotation. Theirs is very deep. Ours is very deep. I don't know that they necessarily feed off one another.

Q. Back to that bullpen for a second, it looked like last night from Alburquerque and Veras you got the best one two punch in consecutive appearances since Veras arrived. With Alburquerque the slider is usually the pitch, whether or not he's got that stuff, that appeared to be in sync. And with Veras the splitter. Do you have any sense that there is some consistency and continuity with those guys you didn't have before?

JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, I think there could be. The one thing a lot of people don't realize is Alburquerque has used his stats. He threw 95. Everybody in the League knows he is a slider guy. He's probably a bit of a surprise last night that he used that a little bit more than a slider.

The other thing is that we found out, we've had to do it a couple of times, it kind of backfired, to be honest with you, Alburquerque, when he comes out for one inning and gives you that good one inning, if you try to send him back out, things don't normally turn out as good, and that's why we made that move last night. He was absolutely lights out last night.

There was some thought of sending him back, but because of the history that he doesn't do quite as well when you send him out for the second inning, I said that's it. Go with Veras and go with another guy and hope it works out. Fortunately, last night it did.

Sometimes Alburquerque seems to be when he sits around after he has a great inning, if he sits around a bit, he's not nearly as sharp when he goes out the next inning.

Q. Can you talk about Ellsbury, and is he one of the keys for the Tigers, you keep off the bases in order to have a better chance at winning the game?

JIM LEYLAND: I'm sorry, would you repeat that?

Q. Can you talk about Ellsbury, and what does he mean to the Red Sox?

JIM LEYLAND: I think last night that's probably why we won the game is because we were able to contain him a little bit, obviously. And also Victorino and Pedroia. If those three guys and they're very good, and they have a lot of different ways to get on base. We knew if we could keep them off base it would give us a much, much better chance to win the game. That's one of our goals. But it's also hard to do.

So it's definitely a big key. But it's not that easy to do. And I'll go back to the thing, because maybe I came off a little sarcastic, a lot of times people think when you I'm not playing Iglesias at short, to answer your question again, because I may have come off wrong. Jhonny Peralta is no donkey, he's made the All Star team twice for me as a shortstop in the last few years. He's a very good shortstop. We're trying to get another bat in there, and we felt it would be the best way to do it.

Like I said, this guy is a bona fide Major League shortstop. This is not a utility guy you're playing there. This is a topnotch shortstop. He doesn't have the range Iglesias has, but this is a very, very good shortstop.

Maybe I don't know what was going on with that answer. I'm not going to answer why you do stuff. I do stuff because I think it gives us the best chance and I mean it. I'm not being smart about it. I try to make out the lineup that I think is the best shot and get another left hander bat in there with Buchholz, although the numbers don't dictate that for sure, but, you know, we'll have a better left fielder defensively. So give up a little something, you get something else. And those combinations are why I made out the lineup I made out today.