Laird complements Fister's gem with assists

Laird complements Fister's gem with assists

DETROIT -- After Albert Pujols' first-inning home run, Tigers starter Doug Fister didn't allow another Angels hitter to reach second base in Wednesday's 7-2 win. Much of that can be credited to Fister simply missing bats -- he had 10 strikeouts -- but catcher Gerald Laird also made a few nice plays.

Laird threw out two baserunners, which is impressive considering the Tigers throw out only 23 percent of runners -- the third-worst mark in the American League -- and the Angels have swiped the second-most bags (72).

"I just try to do what I can back there," Laird said after the game. "I felt really good, [and] that's probably the best I felt throwing to second base tonight. I just felt like I was in rhythm, and [Fister] gave me a chance to throw guys out."

The first try came in the fourth inning, when Pujols walked in his second at-bat and took off for second on a pitch in the dirt. It bounced away from Laird, but the catcher picked it up and fired to second for the out.

The second was a botched hit-and-run attempt in the sixth. Howie Kendrick struck out on a full count, and Alberto Callaspo was easily caught stealing.

"I got one ball where I just kind of made a good play," Laird said. "I blocked it and was able to make a good throw and get him. ... Those are easy outs. Those are free outs for [Fister]."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland spoke prior to the game about the complicated process of catching a runner, which is much more complex than one might believe. There are a few aspects, but he said the most important was the pitcher's delivery to the plate.

The best pitcher, Leyland said, had a quick slide step and usually got the ball -- from the beginning of his windup to the catcher's glove -- in about 1.1 seconds. A slower pitcher had a time above 1.4.

The skipper used Fister as an example and said, because of his quick delivery, the Angels wouldn't be too active on the basepaths.

"He's like 1.1 home. If they steal a base tonight it will be totally because we made a bad throw or they missed a hit and run and they happened to make it," Leyland said Wednesday. "They won't steal tonight. They'll hit and run, but they won't steal."

Although there weren't many opportunities, it proved to be an accurate prediction.

When asked about how the best basestealers overcome a quick delivery, Leyland said: "The great basestealers usually don't go 1.1."

That might be why, despite the Tigers allowing the second-most steals in the AL (75), Fister hasn't allowed any, and only two have bothered to try.