Leyland supports Benoit, understands Berry questioning

All season long when Jim Leyland has been asked about Joaquin Benoit and using him in the eighth inning, Leyland has had pretty much the same thing. The eighth inning is Benoit’s inning, and except for a brief stint or days when he’s filling in for closer Jose Valverde, Benoit has been called on to protect leads in the eighth against left- and right-handed hitters alike.

When asked after Sunday’s 5-4 win over the A’s if he was concerned about Benoit, who gave up Josh Reddick’s go-ahead home run after Yoenis Cespedes stole two bases and scored on a wild pitch to tie it, Leyland said no.

“Not at all,” Leyland said. “I’m not concerned. He’s our guy. I totally believe in him. I totally believe in our entire bullpen, and that’s not going to change. That’s our team. That’s what we are. That’s what we are.

“And Benoit was fantastic 14 hours ago. So, no, I don’t have any questions about that whatsoever.”

Benoit protected a 3-1 lead Saturday night in Game 1 by retiring the side, but one of those outs was a Brandon Moss fly out to the right-field fence. It was a subtle reminder that Benoit led all American League relievers with 14 home runs allowed during the regular season. Six of them either erased a Tigers lead or moved the hitting team in front.

Cespedes’ run had already tied the game, of course, but Reddick’s home run off a hanging changeup moved Oakland ahead, temporarily at least. It capped a seven-pitch at-bat during which Reddick, who had six strikeouts — one from Benoit Saturday night — and a walk in his previous seven plate appearances in the series, fouled off back-to-back 1-2 pitches to stay alive.

Just two baserunners attempted steals on Benoit in the regular season. Chris Getz swiped second on May 2. Alex Avila threw out Jason Kipnis with Benoit pitching Sept. 4.

Leyland said he was not tempted at all to use Phil Coke against Moss and Reddick. One possible reason, not mentioned there but referenced pregame: The presence of Chris Carter and Jonny Gomes on the bench as right-handed hitters presents a bigger potential problem.

“I don’t think when we have the lead in the eighth inning, Benoit is our guy [just] just a righty/lefty,” Leyland said. “The reason he’s our guy is because he can throw it 95 and he has a great changeup that’s very difficult to pick up. We’re not going to change anything now. …

“He’s our eighth-inning guy. It’s that simple. It’s been that way since he’s been here.”

The decision in the bottom of the inning, trying to manufacture a tying run with an Andy Dirks sacrifice bunt and Quintin Berry pinch-hitting for Avisail Garcia, on the other hand, was a little more open for Leyland, who admitted considering using Alex Avila to hit for Garcia instead of waiting a batter and hitting him for Laird.

“That’s a very good question,” Leyland said. “That’s one of those catch-22s. I wasn’t sure if they would walk Alex. I felt like Berry had a better chance of slapping the ball somewhere and not striking out … than Alex. That’s why I hit him first.”

Berry, of course, struck out on three pitches. He went 7-for-16 with a runner on third and two outs during the regular season, striking out only once. Postseason, of course, is different.



Just read JL’s postgame interview transcripts. When questioned about running Kelly for DY instead of QB, he said he was looking to PH for Garcia with QB and saved him for that purpose. Really don’t agree with JL, but he has his reasons. I would have done that and several other things differently (won’t bore you by restating my posts as to my reasoning and various issues). In any event, it all worked out for the best and JL is the guy with his job on the line.

Coke pitching to RHB? Did not see anything in the transcript about the wisdom of that decision, but did read Beck(?) and he noted RHB are .500 plus post ASG against him. A batting practice pitcher stands a better chance for success.

Now the A’s are complaining about Alki kissing the baseball:



I don’t think he was trying to show them up–I think he was just emotional after getting the out.

First, Benoit was not fantastic 14 hours ago. He floated a ball out over the plate to the one hitter most likely to beat a RHP, Brandon Moss, and came within inches of blowing a game. Second, Benoit has allowed ten HR since the break, and the A’s lead the majors in HR since the break. Third, Fister was cruising along and there was no reason to pull him, especially for a pitcher who IS struggling recently, whether Leyland cares to admit it or not.

The decision to pull Fister for Benoit was questionable, at best, but the decision to put in Coke was downright foolish. ANY manager would pinch hit and get right handed hitters up there against Coke, who has allowed a .400 batting average, over .600 slugging, and over 1.000 OPS to righties this season. Sure enough, Melvin put in Norris and got his match up, then two switch hitters batted right, and Leyland was lucky that Coke merely left runners in scoring position instead of blowing the game again, and Al Al had to come in and bail out Coke.

Letting Berry hit for Garcia was a no brainer. Making that move is evidence of no brains. Yeah, Berry can slap the ball, but Garcia makes better contact, even (gasp) against a RHP. Berry whiffs.

The other moves that Leyland made worked well. No issues with the lineup today. Pulling Delmon and Jhonny out of the game for guys that can catch the ball and run the bases paid off. Worth made a near DP play that no way Jhonny gets to. Kelly gets the walk off sac fly, where Delmon likely GIDP.

Leyland is stubborn about sticking with his veterans and putting them into their pre determined roles, regardless of actual probability of winning. He is a great manager of people, but a poor decision maker when odds of moves working have to be calculated. They overcame his bad decisions today.

Some things are abundantly clear. Peralta’s range, always an issue, has decreased this year. Berry does not hit fastballs very well at all. He “Berrly” gets the ball out of the infield and his strikeouts often come at times where the team can least afford them.
JL has made some move that are impressive. The problem is that they are impressive because everyone has accepted that he will stick with the status quo and when he deviates from that successfully we regard him as a genius. When, in fact, it abundantly clear that pinch-running Worth and Kelly for Peralta and Young should be normal procedure. Now I think he should have used Berry to POR for Young but the Kelly thing worked out well in the end.
Berry needs to be managed in a sensible manner. He is an energizer. He might start hitting a bit but you would be wise to get him all jacked up by pinch-running him and stealing a base to get him going. Putting him in cold to PH is not using him correctly.
Benoit is a problem. Dotel could be used in those situations if he fails again. Q2 as well. And I consider what Benoit did yesterday to be somewhat of a failure too in terms of how he is pitching.
Coke is a no-brainer. He cannot be trusted. Smyly will have to become the go to lefty, short or long on Tuesday. Downs has to be considered to add to the roster if we make it to the next round.
I was glad to see JL be willing to adjust a bit this game. I hope he has the good sense not to resort to stereoptypical, fixated, stubborn lineup making the next time we face a RHP. This the Big Kahuna, Berry should no be batting in front of Cabby.
Let’s see JL be a bit more creative.

I agree Smyly should be the go to lefty. Coke scares me and so does Benoit. If Berry would bat in front of Cabby and get on base either by BUNTING or single he could be a threat . Why not batting Garcia behind Prince?

Disagree with Smyly, who is really a starter, not a reliever. Downs..maybe. Coke should be brought in to face leftys only. But with Al ABQ, Benoit and Valverde that is ok.

Coke since All Star break: 17 IP, 26 H, 9 BB, 12 runs, .356 avg allowed, 5.82 ERA, 2.06 WHIP.

A bit worse than Downs eh??!!
Anyway, I am not a Drew Sharp fan but he is right on in his article today:

Leyland made some decisions today. I like to see him do that.
Decisions mean you are contemplating outcomes rather than just doing the same old thing because you are either afraid to or stubborn about.
It almost seems sometimes that Leyland refuses to make a decision in order to prove himself right. This to me is why he will always be a good manager but never a great one. He needs to put his hand to his chin and contemplate a move rather than putting his fingers in his mouth and chewing his fingernails.
Pinch running for Peralta was a good move. And unexpected since he was not the lead runner. It led to, what could have been, a game saving play by Worth.
Leyland left his comfort zone there. He should be willing to do that again.
Peralta got his bat on the ball a couple of times today. I’d play him again on Tuesday if they throw Anderson but be ready to insert Worth mid game

Wow, does anybody just enjoy the game of baseball anymore? It seems like all year long most of the comments have been negative and at times down right mean. While you so called fans are ripping on JL or any other player you don’t feel played well did you take time to notice that the Tigers finished first in their division and have won the first two playoff games all while not playing the way YOU feel they should! If you know so much why haven’t you been offered a Major League contract? As a die hard Tigers fan for over 40 years I have enjoyed the game of baseball win or lose. Nobody likes to see their team lose but lets enjoy game.

Yeah…The negativity is a drain. But, we are all Tiger fans and have different takes on things Don’t despair. The passion means we care. Much of it is just ranting. Alot of it is informative and increases general appreciation of many previously unrecognized facets of the game. As far as knowledge goes, there are some pretty solid posters on this blog. And I can assure some have been very involved with baseball at all different levels.

That’s good to know. I do agree with it comments being informative at times, I just wish it could be done with a positive approach. I don’t always agree with every move either but I still attempt to enjoy the game of baseball no matter what the outcome. I also tend to get frustrated when someone rips on the Tigers.

I think it’s human nature to focus on areas of disagreement, rather than just saying “yeah, I agree with that”. You can read four paragraphs and the most likely to draw a comment is the one point where you disagree. That doesn’t make it negative, just a different viewpoint.

Nice, Dick.

Dick, this is how we enjoy the game. It’s just baseball fans talking about baseball. Some of us have been die hard Tiger fans for 50+ years, so that’s not an issue. Many more of us are displaced Tiger fans with no one in the immediate physical vicinity who gives a darn about any of it. Besides, it would be a pretty dull discussion if we all just said “Yay for the Tigers.”

I spend my vacation at spring training in Lakeland every year. I have subscriptions to both MLB.TV and Extra Innings. I travel to Tiger games in various cities throughout the year. I watch every single game that’s not blacked out. I don’t think the term “so called fan” applies.

I’ve never considered not using Benoit in the 8th inning and I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion now. No doubt there is an issue with these longballs and hopefully that will be addressed (again). I would begin to consider other options in certain situations, yes.
Jim’s point about them walking Avila is valid, but I would have had no problem with letting Laird hit with the bases loaded and against the RHer. All that means is Laird’s replacement would hit 9th. There’s no way I PH Berry when he did. I think everyone saw that result coming, except Jim himself. It’s a case where the strategy may have been correct, but the hitter sent up to execute it wasn’t going to be up for the job.
This is what Jason’s blog entry was about so this is what we’re discussing.

Do we see an omen here? Years ago, Dan coined the term “hope and dream” philosophy. You know that Springsteen song they’ve been playing during the postseason ads? It’s entitled “Land of Hope and Dreams.”

The bigger point is, we need Benoit. Dotel is not better than Benoit. Al ABQ, next year might fill that void but coming back from an elbow you really can’t rely to heavy on him. So yeah, leyland is right, Benoit brought us this far. We need him. He is our 8th inning guy. What we need to do is see if he is tipping his changeup.

Was it a change or a splitter? Saw different reports, but also read an article where Benoit described the pitch as a change.Couldn’t tell from watching on TV.

or maybe it’s his arm slot. That’s another one.

Benoit throws a vulcan changeup.

Thanks. Was able to recover gameday info. Interestingly enough, Benoit threw 4 fastballs and 4 changes in his sequence with Josh. Maybe Josh was due and just guessed right. Or maybe is tipping with mannerims or slot

Boy, the Yankees are killing the Orioles.

Great baseball weekend. My only complaint is not about any of Leylands decisions….it was Al Al kissing the ball. That was showboating at an odd moment (before the out). We already have Valverde clowning on the mound, don’t need another. I am not against all showboating, Guillen’s moment against Weaver was one of the best ever. Priceless!!!

Checked stats for Downs post ASG. 4.41 ERA in 16.1 innings with 17 hits and 8 BB. .273 AVG and 1.53 WHIP. Last 30. 7.71 ERA in 7.0 innings with 8 hits and 2 BB..350 AVG and 1.93 WHIP. Call me negative, but Downs is not the answer to this dilemma.

Couldn’t be happier for Don Kelly. What a feel good story? A close second could be AL ABQ. and I don’t care about him kissing the ball – didn’t seem like a big deal to me. I wanted to do a cartwheel in my living room i was so happy – and i didn’t have arm surgery or a concussion. His career in jeopardy, and same with Donz.
Re: benoit – hey we need this guy. He’s gotta get right – or we aren’t going to win the WS.
Re: our play so far. I feel like we’re doing some things right (e.g. playing loose / having fun, getting some hits, playing OK defense, decent baserunning, and good starting pitching) and we’re getting some LUCK FINALLY. So all in all – I feel good about our chances at getting to the ALCS.
re: this blog. It’s really awful to go out and read some other blogs. Immaturity, attacking, profanity, ignorance and all around bad jokes. I know some – here – get down and give players / management a hard time…but shoot it’s so much more tolerable than other blogs.

Pretty much agree with you across the board.

This is the only blog I bother checking out in regard to the Tigers. It is great to read all of the comments on here. Was at the game yesterday, lower level third base side. First playoff game I have ever attended. I still have my playoff tickets from the Game 163 debacle. I have never stood so much at a baseball game. It was such a great time. Thanks for the blog, Jason and Go Tigers!

not that I’m an expert or anything, but it seems to me that both Benoit and Valverde might be just a little arm weary right now, and not at the top of their game. Maybe these two need a little short term rest to get back to peak form. They are a bit long in the tooth. That’s why it’s nice to have a guy like Al Al and starters that can get deep into the game. Too bad that Villareal guy couldn’t find the plate….

I could tolerate to use them only when needed. Albeit, that’d be using more of ole long-tooth dotel….

Missed both games as I was in the back country this past weekend…..Rats!!!! Yea Don Kelly! (one of my favorites). Whether we agree or disagree with the negativity on this blog, it is clearly evident that the depth of baseball knowledge and technicality has increased almost exponentially over the past 8 years. I once thought I knew quite a bit about baseball:-) The love of the Tigers and the game of baseball itself are always preeminent here. I often disagree with people. That’s OK. I probably tend to listen to my heart more than my mind. I think there is a spectrum of philosophy that can be applied to baseball as well as just about anything in life. The trick is not to think too much with your heart nor your mind but find the balance somewhere in between. Patrick made a good point above. JL is a good manager of people. He manages the game of baseball more to the heart side of the spectrum. Loyalty is important to him, hence he sticks with his formulas and arguably resists making any significant strategic changes both in game and over the long haul. It’s called inertia. There is, you have to admit, both endearment and frustration wrapped up in the name SOC:-) But can you think of a better button than the DK one that JL, aka SOC, pushed yesterday? This after putting him on the 25 man in the first place. That is finding the perfect balance of heart and mind.
Kate, Al Al kissing the ball was strange indeed. You can’t practice or anticipate that. It was a spontaneous gesture of thankfulness rather than showboating, at least that’s what I believe. I hope that’s the way it was taken. Haven’t read anything to this point. At any rate, from a pure play efficiency standpoint it would not be advised. (Could you imagine the outcry had he dropped it?) I don’t think Oakland saw it as disrespectful but you never know. Some people can get pretty tweaked over less. Would not want to see him make a habit of it.

my wife was in a different part of the house and she knew we won by the way i was screaming about don kelly and how i couldn’t believe it was don kelly.

If we are looking for music to play when bringing in a relief pitcher, in this case Al Albuquerque; I would suggest “Besame Mucho”.
Honestly though, we are in the heads of the A’s. When you need some spontaneous, clearly un-contrived incident to fire you up you are clutching at straws. The A’s can beat our team on their own merits but if they are getting sidetracked by this it can only help us, not them.

Marty–we were spontaneous at the same time!. (To be honest with you)

I think the spirit that AlAl displays is a good one. It should be contained better but I would rather see that than being too stoic.
There was a time last year when he had to be reminded of mound behaviour. I remember him getting far too demonstrative after a K or two during an inning.
We are really going to need him to be at the top of his game with the way our bullpen is right now. I think he is still a couple of clicks behind on his fastball after the surgery so his command is going to be very important.

The negative comment from Oakland came from Josh Reddick. He seems to be a quotable guy, but he’s fast becoming the next Kevin Youkilis.

“To be perfectly honest with you” the only decision I really disagreed with yesterday was pinch hitting Berry in that spot. I thought using Kelly to run for Young a good choice, and the same with Worth for Peralta. It is ironic that Worth could replace Peralta only after Jhonny finally got some hits. I have an idea that Worth might be a better choice as starting shortstop next year. I would have used Benoit too, although now we may want to pay more attention to matchups before bringing Joaquin in automatically. Just remembered, I may not have had Dirks bunt there but either choice would have been valid.
In another irony, many people out there have said that Worth making the dandy defensive play meant that it was a good move by Jim to have him pinch run in the previous inning. Now THAT’S hindsight.
We’re the only club so far to have won a home game, and will be the only lower seeded club to win their first two.

good points, rich.
On another note, it’s things like this “The team plays in the 11th largest television market but has the highest local cable ratings” that really get me. (link to article: http://www.mlive.com/business/detroit/index.ssf/2012/10/forbes_detroit_tigers_about_to.html#incart_river_default) Detroit is such a cool baseball place – and we have a storied history and great people in the organization – it’s just hard not to love baseball, here.

“Hindsight”……….”Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”…… It’s almost always 20/20.

I was not a fan of the kiss either, but I am not too worked up – am hoping it is not something he continues – we have enough with Valverde we don’t need someone else, basically still a rookie, trying to show up the other team. As mentioned above, as much as I don’t like showboating I loved the Guillen thing versus Weaver and love to replay that moment, but mostly because I just can’t stand Weaver.

I am not sure about this new format for the playoffs – it is working for us but am surprised by it if I am the hometeam – giving the other team the chance now to only have to win 1 of 3 games seems not at all like a homefield advantage. Not saying we are a lock to win one of those, but the odds are more in our favor than theirs I would think. Can’t wait for tomorrow night. I jumped up and down yelling “Donny!!!!!!!: yesterday, my kids thought I was nuts, there is something just so likeable about that dude and he just makes you feel like he might do something, even though his stats don’t show you that. Feel good story about him, no doubt, I bet Jim was fighting back the tears on that one. And it was fun to watch Leyland do some big moves yesterday.

Not a fan of the Kiss? Which one didn’t you like? Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss? Or was it the lights and explosions on stage? You like “Detroit Rock City”?
Oh……that’s not what you meant…………..

weaver had no beef with magglio – and carlos let him know what everyone thought of his drama. Def. one of my favorite moments.

Did anyone else see that the NFL KC Chief fans cheered their own QB (who isn’t doing well this season) being knocked out by a defender? This happened yesterday.
Not that I will forget what the MLB KC Royal fans did last week (for us and Miggy), but it surprised me!! Anyone else?

I didn’t see it but nothing that happens in the NFL surprises me.

Question: how did Josh Reddick and Jerrod Weaver manage to play an entire season in the same division without once having a gunfight in the street?

Good question Rich, what a couple of hot heads. So glad Tigers don’t have that drama. Our team is full of lovers, not fighters. We had the kiss and Kelly holding Prince all in one game. LOL

I hear the name “Donz” for Don Kelly going crazy was given to him by Ricky Porcello when he was fishing and saw a boat named “Donz”.
man i’d love to go fishing with Porcello. He looks like a fisherman.

Phil Coke has allowed an astonishing .500/.548/.789 (42 PAs) to RHB since the beginning of July. (Courtesy of GWilson, the amazing statman)

As I posted earlier, I also read stat info to that effect. Which is why I repeatedly question why Coke is used against RHB instead of just as a LHB specialist.

Joaquin Benoit is the key to our bullpen. He just makes things click. He gets hurt when he leaves his vulcan changeup up in the zone. He has had rough stretches the second half of the season but then made the necessary adjustments to get back to top form. If and when we have a lead in the eighth, we just need to pull for him. Nobody better than Joquin.

First of all, we are in these playoffs to do one thing and that is to win our last game. To give us a better chance of reaching this goal we must have some “Coke Rules” going forward. 1. He pitches to lefties only. 2. Avoid using him in Yankee Stadium or Camden Yards or even the Oakland Coliseum. 3. Feel free to use him late/close as that is when he pitches his best. Managing is always about giving your players their best chance at having success. You can do it, Mr. Leyland.

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