Mailbag: Leyland's moves right on
Anthony Castrovince answers fans' questions about the ALDS
Well, we've finally wrapped up Game 2 of the ALDS between the Yankees and Tigers, only about 17 or so hours behind schedule.Thanks to the change in schedule, I've gotta bust my hump to the airport to get to Detroit. But before I take in the lovely sights and sounds of the Newark airport, I'll get to a sampling of Wednesday's Mailbag questions. Why did Jim Leyland take Justin Verlander out with a 1-1 count on Robinson Cano in the sixth?
-- Jose, Manhattan Leyland's the type of manager who goes by "feel" over convention. The convention would have been to let Verlander finish out Cano's at-bat, but the skipper noted that the rookie's last fastball topped out at 92 mph. "I just said, you know, this is it," Leyland said. "I'm going to make my move now." The move sure paid off. Jamie Walker came on and got Cano to hit into an inning-ending double play. It was one of the bigger plays of the ballgame. Why did Joe Torre stay with Mike Mussina so long? It didn't seem like he was fooling the Tigers.
-- Mike, Oak Lawn, Ill. Hard to say for certain, Mike. Mussina really lost control of this ballgame as it wore on, but Torre was remarkably patient with him. If the Yankees have a weakness, it's in the bridge to Mariano Rivera, and that could be why Torre opted instead to let Mussina work out of his own trouble. Why in the world didn't the Tigers use Joel Zumaya to close the game? He was throwing over 100 mph.
-- Luke, Albany, N.Y. The Tigers aren't going to overtax Zumaya's young arm. He had already worked 1 2/3 innings. Besides, Todd Jones is this club's closer, and it's his job to seal it up in the ninth. Derek Jeter was 5-for-5 in the opening game of the ALDS. What is the MLB record for consecutive hits in the playoffs?
-- Ralph J., New Jersey Jeter didn't get a hit in his first at-bat Wednesday, so he fell one hit shy of tying the postseason record for consecutive hits in a postseason. The record is eight, shared by Reggie Jackson (1977-78), Billy Hatcher (1990) and Miguel Cairo (2001-02).
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-- Michael H., New York Your frustration is certainly justified, Michael. That was, unquestionably, a mess Tuesday night. Major League Baseball had conflicting weather reports, and it's a shame the situation couldn't have been resolved earlier. As bad as the forecast looked (and as bad as the weather became) this was no night to be playing a game of this caliber. But the fans should have been informed of the postponement much earlier than they were, as it was a done deal at least five to 10 minutes before it was announced. The ticket situation is also a sticky one. But the bottom line, with these two teams having to travel to Detroit for Game 3 on Friday, is that the rescheduled game had to come the next day and during the day. I just want to know why, after looking like a World Series ball club on Tuesday, Johnny Damon was the only one who could provide any offense for the Yankees, not to mention Moose's pitching was mediocre.
-- Brad C, Hopewell, N.J. Outstanding pitching is going to be the only way to beat the Yanks, and the Tigers had it Wednesday. Verlander's curveball perfectly offset that heat and was downright nasty. And Zumaya was just as sharp, tearing through the middle of the order like it was nothing.
-- Dan, Dearborn, Mich. This was an undeniably huge win for the Tigers, Dan. They negated the Yankees' home-field advantage and, in fact, took that advantage for themselves. They also simply proved they belong. Rogers has pitched well at Comerica, but he's struggled against the Yankees. Still, I think the onus is moreso on Randy Johnson to right the Yankees' ship. Otherwise, it might very well sink in what could only be called an upset.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.