NEW YORK -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland managed Kenny Rogers through a scoreless postseason in 2006, including eight innings of two-hit ball in the World Series. With the Marlins, he managed Livan Hernandez through a 15-strikeout complete game in the 1997 National League Championship Series.
So when Leyland says he has never had a better performance in a postseason than the complete-game four-hitter Justin Verlander delivered in Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Thursday night in Oakland, it's more than mere flattery.
"I would have to say that's as good of a pitching performance as I've seen had pitched for me in a big game," Leyland said.
It's no surprise, then, that Leyland lined his ALCS rotation up to have Verlander start a potential Game 7 next weekend at Yankee Stadium.
It wasn't simply the quality of the pitches, Leyland said. It was the purpose behind it.
"What I really liked about [the game]," Leyland said, "is it really showed how much he's matured. He didn't go out and overthrow. He didn't go out and try to show the Oakland crowd."