Jim Leyland postgame interview

Jim Leyland postgame interview

What was the conversation with Kenny when you went out there in the 8th inning?

JIM LEYLAND: You know, the inning before we had a long inning, and it looked like obviously the first three pitches he got out of whack a little bit. He settled there for a long time, and it looked like -- I didn't really like the reaction after he walked that hitter to start the inning. So I just wanted to make sure to calm him down a little bit. I felt like he could still get a ground ball, which he did. We didn't turn it. Obviously I wanted to turn the next hitter around, and I thought certainly he had done enough for the night.

Can you please talk about Rogers' command? I had him, I think, at 13 consecutive first pitch strikes.

JIM LEYLAND: Well, he's a professional pitcher. That's what he is. There's guys with other stuff. There's guys that will light up the radar gun a little bit more. But to be honest with you, for the most part of this year, he's pitched as good as anybody we have, and fortunately we have good pitchers. That's a compliment to all of them.

Will Zumaya be available tomorrow? And would you use him if he is?

JIM LEYLAND: I don't know that he'll be available tomorrow. I really don't know the answer to that. He was better today. And for precautionary stuff, he's got some type of device on his hand, so that's normally not a good feeling for a manager, when you see your pitcher with some type of device on his hand. I really don't know the answer to that just yet.

With all the things Polanco does, how much did you miss him when he was out, and how concerned were you that he wasn't going to come back this year?

JIM LEYLAND: I really didn't know if he was going to make it back or not. Obviously we missed him. We're like everybody else; we try to be professional here, and we have no excuses. I mean, did we miss him, sure. Are they missing their combination that they had at short and second? Absolutely. There's no excuses, and good teams find a way to survive and do the best they can when they have certain players down, or any player down as far as that goes. So did we miss him? Yes, but we have to go on.

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Nothing that Polanco has done really surprises you. You've been on his bandwagon for a long time. But for him to have come back with that shoulder problem and then had the kind of artistry he's had at the plate the last couple weeks, can you talk a little bit about that?

JIM LEYLAND: I really don't know how he's done it to be honest with you, because I thought -- sometimes you can get guys like that back and you put them in the lineup because that name is supposed to be in the lineup, but you're really not sure what to expect. Polanco is the type of guy like the rest of our players: He's going to come back and give you everything he has, so you have a good feeling about that. But to see him do this is pretty amazing.

You've used different people at DH each game and you've gotten production out of each of them. Is this a matter of finding the exact right spot for these people?

JIM LEYLAND: I think it's a matter that you have confidence in all your players, and there's also a little luck that goes along with it, to be honest with you. I'm not trying to keep everybody in suspense of who I'm DHing. Infante was 1 for 3 with two walks. He got a hit today and walked. As a manager, like I say, you just make out the lineup that you think gives you the best chance to win. If the players execute, it's a good lineup; if they don't, you should have picked somebody else, I guess (laughter).

You've seen plenty of postseason action both in the dugout and elsewhere. Have you seen many back-to-back dominant performances like Kenny has put together here?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, unfortunately I saw the Braves in the '90s (laughter). I saw quite a bit of Mr. Smoltz, who I think is the best postseason pitcher I've ever seen. But I can tell you this: It couldn't be any better. It's a little bit different type of stuff and everything, but nobody could have pitched better than what Kenny has pitched the last two outings, including John Smoltz, who like I said is the best postseason pitcher I've ever seen.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.