CHICAGO -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland doesn't have a problem with anyone second-guessing his decision to remove starter Drew Smyly after five innings in the Tigers' eventual 7-5 loss to the White Sox on Monday.
With Detroit ahead, 5-4, Leyland took out the left-hander after he had thrown only 69 pitches, two of which were hit into the stands for two-run home runs. Right-hander Luke Putkonen came in from the bullpen and allowed three runs on four hits and a walk as the White Sox took the lead.
After the game, Leyland said he didn't like the way Smyly was leaving pitches up in the zone. Of the 15 outs Smyly recorded, nine were through the air, and Leyland felt the left-hander was flirting with danger.
But the skipper understands why others might disagree, especially with how the game ended.
"Taking Smyly out is a legitimate second-guess, I have no problem with that whatsoever," Leyland said Tuesday morning. "I just felt like what I was seeing, with some big right-handers coming up, they hadn't seen Putkonen and if I can get him to hold it for an inning or two, we get to [setup man Joaquin] Benoit and [we're good]. [Smyly] was OK, but he had given up in four runs in five innings."
Smyly and catcher Gerald Laird each said they were surprised the left-hander was taken out so early, but said they respected Leyland's decision. Laird also alluded to Leyland's point about Smyly leaving pitches up.
"He was moving the ball in and out, he was getting away with some pitches," Laird said. "From what he had tonight, it wasn't his best stuff, but I thought he was throwing the ball pretty well."
Smyly said he only regretted two pitches.
"I thought I was making pretty good pitches, I was jamming them a bunch, I don't know why they were popping them all up," Smyly said. "But I take back two pitches, those two home runs."