Leyland explains rationale behind pulling Fister

Leyland explains rationale behind pulling Fister

Leyland explains rationale behind pulling Fister
CHICAGO -- Manager Jim Leyland faced the questions after Tuesday's win, asked why he pulled starter Doug Fister when he did. His answer had a lot more to do with setup man Joaquin Benoit.

An eighth-inning lead, Leyland said, is what Benoit is there to hold.

"I've got all the confidence in the world in Benoit," Leyland said. "I think he's one of the best setup guys in all of baseball. That's what he's down there for. After 95, 100 pitches [from the starter], that's what they're down there for. Bring in somebody fresh. You're going to leave yourself open for second-guessing, but you have to make decisions."

Benoit gave up a run -- his first run allowed in four weeks -- on three consecutive singles to make it a 5-3 game, then sent down the White Sox in order, including back-to-back three-pitch strikeouts of Kevin Youkilis and Dewayne Wise.

"Every out was important," Benoit said. "The first three hitters got on base -- makes it a little bit tough to start an inning -- and cut the lead to two runs instead of three. The strikeouts mean a lot. The ground ball would have been a double play."

Once Paul Konerko grounded out, Benoit had his 29th hold of the year, third most among Major League relievers.

Benoit's statistics entering Wednesday were almost identical to those of his 2011 season. His 61 innings matched last season's total, with 21 earned runs instead of 20, and 72 strikeouts (compared with 63 last year). The one major downside are his 11 home runs, more than double his 2011 total.