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The Leyland plan gets the job done

Oct 13, 2011, 9:25 PM EDT

Jim Leyland Reuters

Tigers manager Jim Leyland had a plan: even with his team facing elimination in Game 5 against the Rangers, Leyland said Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde were off limits and that he wanted to get through the game with Justin Verlander and left-hander Phil Coke going the distance.

Which is exactly what happened in a 7-5 victory. Leyland rode Verlander for 7 1/3 innings, allowing him to throw 133 pitches before Nelson Cruz‘s two-run homer knocked him out of the game. Coke took over after that and allowed one run before getting his fifth and final out to finish the Rangers.

It looked like Leyland’s intention to stay with Coke could backfire in a big way. After two quick outs to start the ninth in a 7-4 game, Josh Hamilton doubled. The Rangers, of course, follow Hamilton with four straight right-handed hitters, each arguably more dangerous than the last: Michael Young, Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz.

Leyland had his third-best right-handed reliever up in the pen in Ryan Perry. He also had starter Brad Penny up as sort of a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option.

Leyland, though, opted to keep going with the lefty, even after Young singled in Hamilton and Beltre walked with two outs. Fortunately for the Tigers, it turned out just fine, as Napoli grounded out to end the game with the tying run on. Cruz, the hottest hitter in either lineup, was left on deck and awaiting Game 6.

  1. frankvzappa - Oct 13, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    Leyland Plan > Schlieffen Plan

  2. aceshigh11 - Oct 13, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    Leyland uses Coke to go the distance.

    The drug subtexts just write themselves, folks.

    • foreverchipper10 - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:51 AM

      At least he isn’t abusing him…..

  3. polegojim - Oct 13, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    Well done Mr. Manager.

    Just need to elimnate the mistake pitches. Texas is too good for that. Verlander flirted with long ball, high strikes all evening. Most Rangers couldn’t catch up to him, but Cruz is not like ‘most’.

    Keep the ball down boys.


  4. purnellmeagrejr - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    tense at the end, it was. I wouldn’t have had the stomach to leave Coke in to face Napoli. Leyland looked like it was giving him a belly ache, too.

  5. Detroit Michael - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    What’s the point of having Ryan Perry warm up if he’s not going to be used against a right-handed batter with one out to go when the guy at the plate is the potential tying or winning run? Phil Coke without a platoon advantage is not better than Ryan Perry with a platoon advantage. If the point was to conserve relievers for the next day, then why have Perry warm up in the first place?

    I didn’t agree at all with Leyland’s decision.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:54 AM

      if it hadn’t worked I wouldn’t have agreed with him, either.

  6. badmamainphilliesjamas - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    Nobody mentioned the first natural cycle in postseason history?

  7. mplsjoe - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    I don’t understand…Coke is a left-handed pitcher, and the batters were right-handed…how could Coke possibly have gotten them out? I have a binder which says that can’t happen!

  8. philliesblow - Oct 14, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    If Napoli had walked to load the bases Cruz would have been up. Do you walk Cruz to keep the damage at 1 run and take your chances with the next hitter or pitch to Cruz so he can hit another HR? Fortunately it never got to this point, but something to ponder.

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