Leyland: Verlander up for the challenge

Leyland: Verlander up for the challenge
October 15, 2013, 4:30 pm
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DETROIT -- When Tigers manager Jim Leyland met with media on Tuesday, he did not address the team’s stunning loss on Sunday night.
 
“The series is probably where it should be. You just turn the page,” Leyland said.

“They had a day off to rest up a little bit. Had a light workout yesterday. It doesn't work out like that when you're in these playoffs.  I think something like that can linger more during the season than the playoff, because the stakes are so big now. We'll be ready to play today.”
 
Leyland said the demeanor of Joaquin Benoit, who gave up Ortiz’s slam on his first pitch of the game, should help the closer to rebound.
 
“He doesn't get too excited,” Leyland said.  “He's got as good pitch-ability as anybody on the team.  He's able to read the bat, read the hitter.  He knew he was trying to do something, down and away out of the strike zone and threw it a little too hard and left it up.  He's a pretty calm guy.  Doesn't get too excited.  I think that's helped him in the closer role.  Some closers they come running out of there all pumped up.  And some guys the demeanor is a little different, but he's got a good feel for it.”
 
* Leyland on Tigers Game 3 starter Justin Verlander:
 
“He's obviously a power pitcher with -- he has three well‑above average pitches, major-league pitches, and one slightly above average.  So that's pretty good equipment to go out there with.

“He's a focused guy. When he's got that look on his face, you can always tell that he's probably going to go out there and give you a good effort. You can tell a little bit by his demeanor, not all the time, but some of the time.

“He'll be up for this challenge today as [Red Sox starter John] Lackey will be. Like I say, postseason baseball you're going to see a good pitcher every day. They're going to see a good one today and we're going to see one. He's done very well, his record is misleading.  Several games where he gave up two runs or less and got a loss or didn't get a decision. I think you saw Justin Verlander great in Oakland and I expect another great one from him today.”
 
* The Tigers will have three left-handed hitters -- Prince Fielder, Alex Avila, and Andy  Dirks -- along with switch-hitter Victor Martinez in the lineup against Lackey. This will be Dirks' first appearance in the ALCS. He is 2-for-5 with an RBI in his career against Lackey.
 
“He's struggled a little bit, been off, had time to clear the cobwebs, not getting a lot out of production out of left field unless we played [Jhonny] Peralta there,” Leyland said of Dirks. “He's done a little bit off Lackey. And thought we'd change it up and run him out there, maybe get something, catch lightning in the bottle. That's the lineup. We'll see how it plays out.”
 
* The Tigers are  the first team in postseason history with three straight games in which pitchers opened with a t least five no-hit innings. Verlander did not allow a hit in Game 5 of the ALDS against the A’s through 6 2/3 innings. Anibal Sanchez, Al Albuquerque, Jose Veras, Drew Smyly, and Joaquin no-hit the the sox through 8 1/3 innings in Game 1 of the ALCS. And Max Scherzer kept the Sox hitless through 5 2/3 innings in Game 2.

* Tigers pitchers have recorded quality starts in six of their seven postseason games so far, posting a combined 2.18 ERA, giving up 11 earned runs in 45 1/3 innings with 64 strikeouts, holding opponents to a .161 average.