August 9th, 2012

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Yankees

It’s a rainy, dreary morning at Comerica Park, where the waiting game is on to see if they can get this game in. At this point, the reports suggest there’s going to be a window coming up when, if the windows lasts enough, they can at least get the game started and try to play through rain when it resumes this afternoon.

One thing to keep in mind: Since it’s late in the season and it’s the Yankees’ last trip to Detroit, the call on whether this game will be played is up to the umpires, not the Tigers. And they’re well aware that there’s only one common off-day between these two clubs — Sept. 17, which is the last off-day they have. If the Tigers have to play that day, they’ll be playing 26 consecutive days to end the regular season.

The forecast played at least a small part in Jim Leyland’s lineup today. After talking with the medical staff, he decided to give Miguel Cabrera another day at DH to take it easy on his sore ankle. That caused an outfield shuffle that ends in a day off for Austin Jackson, who’s 3-for-14 this series after going 1-for-5 with three strikeouts last night.

TIGERS

  1. Quintin Berry, CF
  2. Andy Dirks, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Brennan Boesch, RF
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Omar Infante, 3B
  9. Ramon Santiago, 2B

P: Doug Fister

YANKEES

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Nick Swisher, DH
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  5. Eric Chavez, 3B
  6. Curtis Granderson, CF
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF
  8. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  9. Chris Stewart, C

P: Hiroki Kuroda

Leyland concerned “a little bit” about Phil Coke

Jim Leyland was asked after Wednesday’s loss if he’s concerned about Phil Coke and his recent struggles. Here was his answer:

“Obviously we need to get him going, so I would say that … Concerned? A little bit. But in a panic mode? No. But we’ve got to get him going. He’s very important for us, because our other two lefties are very inexperienced. So it’ll be important to get him going. It’s just a matter of him getting the ball where he’s trying to get it. But when you don’t at this level, you pay the price.”

The last part was a repeat of what Leyland said a couple minutes earlier when asked what he saw out of Coke Wednesday night.

“He’s just not getting the ball where he’s trying to get it,” Leyland said.

Phil Coke was asked later if he’s concerned about his recent struggles. His answer:

“The concern I had was my last outing. My last two outings were my concern, and I made my adjustments I needed to make, and I was throwing the ball really well tonight.”

This is the point where Coke clearly has a different definition. His focus was on how he feels with his delivery and his pitches. Everybody else’s concern is on the results. That’s something a lot of pitchers go through. In his defense, Leyland pointed out that his three hits included a bloop single from Nick Swisher and a ground ball through the left side from Mark Teixeira, and his second run came home after an 11-pitch at-bat from Eric Chavez.

“They kept getting their hits and you could see that their confidence had swung for the better and it was a matter of trying to make them mishit the ball,” Coke said. “For the most part, I felt like I did that. I broke Swisher’s bat and Cano didn’t hit the ball over the wall. I mean, he hit the ball in the gap and Jackson wasn’t able to track it down, but I mean, those things happen. Resultswise, I’m not necessarily upset, because I felt like I made all but one pitch tonight. I’m OK with my results as far as how I felt, how the ball’s coming out of my hand, because that’s what I was struggling with.”

That said, the Tigers began the inning with an 8-7 deficit and ended the inning with a 10-7 deficit. If the fourth inning was the key to Tuesday’s win, the eighth inning was probably the key to the Yankees holding on.

“A lot of times you don’t care how you win games,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Just win.”

Coke threw 25 pitches, 21 of them for strikes, so the command woes of his previous couple outings — 49 pitches, 25 strikes over his previous two outings, including two costly walks — weren’t as big. At the same time, just two of those 21 strikes were swings and misses. One was to Chavez before he fouled off seven pitches to extend his at-bat.

Said Coke: “I know people just look at the results, but at the same time, the results are whatever they’re going to be. You can’t script the game. If you could, I mean, we’d already have like 150 World Series titles. But you can’t. It doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you just run into a team that’s on a hot streak.”

As for how he feels, Coke said, “I’m feeling better than I did earlier in the season. Tonight, I felt like I’m supposed to feel. I felt strong, I felt smooth, and the ball was jumping out of my hand.”

When asked about Leyland’s concern, Coke said Leyland had talked to him about it earlier in the week.

“He voiced his concern,” Coke said, “and I hope I put that concern to rest.”
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