Leyland not thrown by rainout
Come hell or high water, with an emphasis on the latter, the Tigers will stay with their plan. That is what they did in the rain-soaked 2006 postseason and that is what they are doing now that a rain-suspended Game 1 has thrown pitching plans up for grabs.
"This," Jim Leyland said Saturday at Yankee Stadium, "is not a crisis."
Sure, he is disappointed that he will get to use ace Justin Verlander only once in this American League Division Series, just as he is pretty certain the Yankees are upset about having CC Sabathia's availability cut back.
"I don't know about CC. I don't want to stick my nose in somebody else's business," the Tigers' manager said. "But it is what it is."
And it isn't what it isn't, namely an earth-shattering development. "There's no sense getting excited about it. You roll with the punches," Leyland said. "This is baseball. This is postseason baseball. It got delayed a little bit. It's certainly not a crisis."
Game 1 was awash in repercussions after it was halted at 9:07 Friday night and scheduled to resume in the bottom of the second Saturday night. The starters scheduled to work Game 2 had to go into Game 1, Part II. The starters who were scheduled to pitch Monday night will pitch Sunday. Who knows when Sabathia will pitch or who will pitch for either side in a possible Game 5?
Verlander believes it all is in good hands. "I've got the good fortune of having a manager who not only looks at the present but the future as well," the Tigers' ace and potential American Most Valuable Player said.
At least the delay and suspension Friday night were seen as fair for everyone, unlike the rainout of Game 2 of the 2006 ALDS between the same two teams at the previous Yankee Stadium. On that occasion, Verlander heard on TV that the game would start at 10 p.m. and began playing catch in the outfield, only to stop when the Tigers noticed no Yankees on the field. They realized the Yankees must have known something the Tigers didn't. At the time, Leyland joked it was the first time he was outmanaged on a day when there was no game.
But it wasn't all that funny. "I think that rubbed us the wrong way," Verlander said, thinking back five years. "Obviously, this is a different situation."
The Tigers had another rainout during the World Series that year. Even though they were trailing 2-1, Leyland declined to scratch Jeremy Bonderman in favor of Verlander, who was a better pitcher and was fully rested. "He has earned it. He's one of our horses," Leyland said at the time of Bonderman, who got a no-decision in the Game 4 loss (Verlander lost Game 5).
Leyland has the same outlook now, even though his team had not been sure of the new rule that suspends, rather than postpones, a postseason game. "It kind of stinks for me. I wish I didn't have that strikeout," said Ryan Raburn, the last one at the plate Friday.
It just wasn't anything about which to get overwrought. "I think," Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera said, "nobody has got the advantage here."