OAKLAND -- Doug Fister started Game 5 of the Tigers' American League Division Series against the Yankees last October before Max Scherzer pitched in relief to protect his lead. A year later, Fister was on the other side, available out of the bullpen if needed to protect a lead in the late innings.
The difference this year is that who pitches out of the bullpen would be pitching for Justin Verlander. As good as the all-hands-on-deck approach sounds, it only makes sense if it's worth taking out Verlander.
"Normally, what you weigh is [this]: Is the guy out there better than what you're bringing in?" Leyland said.
In pretty much any case, unless Verlander is nearing his physical limit on pitch count, the answer would be no.
"This game will probably be decided with Verlander in the game," Leyland said. "I don't have anybody better than him."
Leyland not second-guessing Game 4 loss
OAKLAND -- The worn-in couch in the manager's office at Comerica Park shows how many nights Jim Leyland has trouble sleeping over the course of a season. He'll second-guess himself after a tough loss, and he'll think ahead after a win.
This American League Division Series was not a stretch he has spent wide-eyed and awake when he should be sleeping. As tough as Wednesday's loss in Game 4 proved, Leyland said, he was fine.
How can Leyland rest easy after a game like that? Long story short, his team played a clean game, even during the ninth-inning A's rally that forced Game 5.
"I know this sounds crazy, because we were all a little heartbroken," Leyland said. "I wasn't as upset as everybody was last night and I'll tell you why. We didn't walk them. We didn't hit a batter. We didn't make an error. We didn't throw the ball away. We didn't make a bad fundamental play. They beat us. They earned it. They hit the ball. They stroked the ball off [Jose] Valverde good last night.
"Were we all a little heartbroken? Sure. But you know what, they earned it. We didn't kick the ball around. He didn't walk guys. Nobody made a stupid mistake. That's the beauty of the game, and they earned it."
Leyland: Ibanez move made sense
OAKLAND -- The question about Raul Ibanez's pinch-hit home run hadn't even come out of a reporter's mouth when Tigers manager Jim Leyland dead-panned a reply.
"I'm not going to pinch-hit for [Miguel] Cabrera," Leyland retorted, drawing laughter.
For a manager known for handling star players well, Leyland liked the move that Yankees manager Joe Girardi made to replace Alex Rodriguez with Ibanez in the ninth inning of the other ALDS against the Orioles on Wednesday night. .
"I thought it made a lot of sense," Leyland said. "You've got a sinkerball pitcher, a low-ball pitcher. You've got a low-ball hitter. You have the wind blowing out to right with a short porch. And you've got a guy that's struggling.
"A-Rod handled it great, I thought. I thought it was funny the way he said it. He said 10 years ago he might've been upset. Well, 10 years ago, he wouldn't have been pinch-hit for."
When Leyland sees daring moves like that, he said, "You always think that there are obvious reasons for it."
Alburquerque impressive in handling conditions
OAKLAND -- The one perfect inning of work from the Tigers bullpen Wednesday night came from the one reliever A's fans were waiting to see.
The only thing quiet about Al Alburquerque's seventh inning was his actual performance. The crowd was not, especially when he was introduced.
"They've been booing every one of us," catcher Alex Avila said, "but I did notice the PA announcer took a little more time saying his name than everybody else's."
For a pitcher whose postseason debut last year was a Robinson Cano grand slam at Yankee Stadium, it's worth recognizing.
The same factors behind Alburquerque kissing the baseball in Game 2 might have been the factors that helped him through Game 4. It wasn't completely easy, not with a 3-0 count on the leadoff hitter, but he got through it.
"I knew he would come out and give his best," Avila said. "He's the type of guy who once he gets on the mound, he's oblivious to everything that's going on but the hitter. I don't even think he even knows who's hitting. So that didn't surprise me. I knew he was going to pitch just fine."
Former Tiger Summers passes away
OAKLAND -- Former Tigers slugger Champ Summers, who hit 37 home runs over his first two seasons in Detroit, has passed away at age 66.
According to Ocala.com, Summers died after a lengthy battle with kidney cancer in Ocala, Fla.
Summers was a Vietnam veteran before the Oakland A's signed him as an amateur free agent at age 25. He made it to the big leagues three years later and had stints with the Cubs and Reds before Sparky Anderson brought him to Detroit in a midseason trade.
Summers thrived as an outfielder upon arrival, homering 20 times over 90 games in 1979 while batting .313 with 62 RBIs. He followed that up with a move to DH, batting .297 with 17 homers and 60 RBIs in 1980.
The Tigers traded Summers to San Francisco in the spring of 1982 for Enos Cabell. Summers faced the Tigers in the 1984 World Series as a member of the Padres.