Oct. 17 Jim Leyland pregame interview

Oct. 17 Jim Leyland pregame interview

Q. Obviously your pitchers have piled up a lot of strikeouts the first four games.

JIM LEYLAND: We've done that during the regular season a little bit, struck out a lot of guys. Like I said, sometimes that's a Catch 22 because it's good, because they're outs, but it's bad because the pitch count gets so high.

I'm hoping Sanchez can cut down on that pitch count tonight. I think that would be very important for us.

Q. I know the other guys have to play in this, too, but how does the weather factor into a game like tonight?

JIM LEYLAND: I think it affects the fans more than it does the players, to be honest with you. The players are used to it, particularly in this part of the country, Boston and us, we're both used to this in the spring of the year. And if you're fortunate enough to be playing late in the year you know you're going to be playing in some of this. It's going to be cool, maybe a little wet.

But I don't see it as a factor. It could come into play, somebody could slip. But I don't think that's a big issue.

Q. How important is it to win Game 5 when the series is tied 2 2?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I mean it's important for both teams, probably a little bit more important for us than them, to be honest with you. But it's not the end of the world. Whoever loses this game, it doesn't mean you've won anything if you win this game. Probably more important for us, because if we win this one, then we'd have to get a split in Boston. If we don't, we'd have to win two in their park. They're pretty good there, obviously.

I don't put much emphasis on that. I think we're going to play this series out and at the end of the day, somebody is going to win and something is going to lose.

Q. Yesterday you said you were going with the same lineup as you had yesterday. Talk about the lineup success yesterday and what you expect today with the same guys there?

JIM LEYLAND: Actually, I didn't go with the same lineup tonight that I went with yesterday. I flip flopped Avila and Infante. Infante will hit behind Peralta and Avila will be in the 7 hole.

I don't think the lineup was a big factor, at all. I don't think it had anything to do with us necessarily winning the game. I think it did do one thing, I think by his own omission, I think it relaxed Austin Jackson a little bit. That was a mission accomplished.

The lineup really wasn't a drastic change, but people were making a big deal about it. We just moved some guys up. It wasn't a drastic lineup change, in my opinion. The one mission was to try to get Austin maybe away from it a little bit and let him relax a little bit. He did a terrific job. He had a terrific game. From that standpoint the mission was accomplished.

Q. Being in so many postseason series as a manager, what have you learned are the biggest factors, maybe the biggest factor, in who wins these really short postseason series?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, that's a great question. I'm not sure I really have an answer for you. The stakes are big. The intensity is there. The crowds are there. The home crowd, away crowd. It's just baseball at its best.

I can't really explain how it ends up that somebody wins it and somebody loses it. That's just the way it is. At the end of 9 innings, or extra innings, somebody is going to win and somebody is going to lose. I don't think the fact that you've been here several times does that much for you. Each new postseason is a new postseason.

We are playing a great team. And hopefully they feel the same way about us. It's been a heck of a series. An exciting game last night, Fister was terrific. Who knows. I can't answer how it's going to play out.

Q. What kind of challenges do you think Max Scherzer faces on Saturday, and I guess Anibal today, too, in starting against the same team a second time in a series?

JIM LEYLAND: I think there's something to be said for that. I'd be lying if I didn't, because I used that example, if you remember, our guys, not the Boston guys, but our guys remember in the Oakland series we had not seen Sonny Gray, and the first time around he chewed us up pretty good. The second time around it was a combination of he wasn't as good and we had seen him.

I think it does make a difference if you've seen a guy. It gives you a little help. It doesn't mean if he's really good, like you hope your pitcher will be tonight, that it doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it does help, I think, if you've seen a guy, like I said, I think the Oakland series with Sonny Gray was probably a good example.

Q. How unsure were you before the postseason that Jhonny Peralta would be able to produce after such a long time off and what do you think has allowed him to do that?

JIM LEYLAND: By the rules we were allowed to work him out here a little bit, we sent him to the Instructional League. It was a cram course. I don't know how this is happening. I'm sure he's not totally comfortable in left field yet. I'd be lying if I said I was totally comfortable with him in left field yet, and I don't mean that sarcastically, that's just a fact, he's never really played there.

The thing that surprised me is the timing he's had at the plate has been so good. He got very few at bats in the Instructional League, which is where we sent him to work out and play a little bit. His timing offensively has been so good. That's the biggest surprise. Playing short for him is like an old shoe, he's very comfortable there. I'm sure he's not as comfortable in left field, and I'm not either, to be honest with you.

Q. In all your experiences is this the best postseason rotation you've ever had, and can you compare it at all to anything you had in Pittsburgh or Florida?

JIM LEYLAND: We had a very good rotation in Florida in '97 when we were fortunate enough to win the World Series, but it wasn't as good as this one. This is the best that I've had. I'm not talking about other teams, other organizations, but for me, yes, it's the best postseason starting rotation I've ever had.

Q. Do you feel that some players rise to the occasion in this situation and some players do not?

JIM LEYLAND: That's true. That's very true. And you never really know how that happens. As I said earlier in this series, sometimes you talk about the starters all the time and it's not an unknown, but maybe not a big name that comes up with a big hit or makes a big play.

And I think in my opinion, Doug Fister is respected on our staff as anybody, but he probably wasn't talked about as much as Sanchez, Scherzer and Verlander. But he pitched a great game last night against a great lineup. First of all, I think they always have a tendency, even during the course of the season to pitch the big guys a little tougher. I think that's some of it. I don't think there's any question that's some of it. When those big guys step into the box, I think pitchers try to pitch them more carefully, I think that's part of the equation.

And for whatever reason, maybe they aren't swinging good at the time. That happens too. Guys could be swinging good at the end of the season, and all of a sudden they're in a funk and they're not swinging as good at the moment.

But I think the pitchers are very careful not to give into those big guys. They don't want to make a mistake to those guys, so I think they probably pitch them tougher than they do other guys.

Q. You were talking about pitching the big guys tougher. Do you think that's what is going on with Prince or a relaxation thing with Austin?

JIM LEYLAND: Actually he's gotten some hits in this series, to be honest with you. And I think that people are looking for the faults, but he's actually gotten some hits in this series, and really hasn't swung the bat all that bad.

I think a lot of people, when they think of Prince they relate to the home runs, and if he doesn't have a home run, but we've never asked Prince to hit home runs, we just want Prince to produce. He's always been a run producer, that's what we got him for. And that's what he's done ever since he's been here.

In fairness through now, that ball that Miggy hit that's usually a double is now a single, because Miguel is hurting so bad. And it enables Prince in some cases to knock him in with a hit. I think there's a lot of combinations going on there.