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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Leyland not happy with Tigers' adjustments vs. Phil Hughes

At the start of the season, Tigers manager Jim Leyland was constantly tipping his cap to the opposing pitcher, noting the gamut of quality arms his team was facing at the time.

But, as he eventually said, at some point you've gotta stop tipping your cap, and start making something happen.

Case in point: Sunday's 5-1 loss to the Yankees, when Phil Hughes (5-5) threw a complete-game four-hitter, giving up just one run — on a Prince Fielder homer in the fourth — lowering his ERA from 5.64 to 4.96 in the process. It was the first nine-inning complete game of his career (he had another rain-shortened CG).

Leyland was particularly unhappy with how his left-handers responded to Hughes pitching them inside with fastballs all game long. Leyland's four lefties — Quintin Berry (0-for-4), Prince Fielder (1-for-4), Brennan Boesch (0-for-4) and Don Kelly (0-for-2) — were a combined 1-for-10 with three strikeouts.

Here are some of his (extensive) postgame quotes:

"Well, Hughes was good. I’m disappointed in the offense today, especially left-hand hitters. I mean, he kept doing the same thing he’s been doing. Left-handers haven’t been hitting him. He just pounds the ball inside. We didn’t look in there to turn on the ball, at all. We just kept letting him pound it in there. He kept jamming us. I was pretty disappointed.

"I mean, you’ve gotta make adjustments in the game. You could see what he was doing. He was pounding us — not cutters, either; four-seam fastballs right in on a guy. We made no adjustments whatsoever. We kept letting him beat us, fighting it off the other way.

"That’s not good. That’s not a very good day of hitting, making any kind of adjustment at all. That upsets me a little bit.

"Prince hit a breaking ball for the long home run, obviously, but I’m talking about the fastballs. Our left-hand hitters all day long just let him beat us with fastballs and you see the catcher sitting right in there, one right after another. That’s not very good, making adjustments."

Q: Are you disappointed because it comes on heels of games where you lauded your team for its effort?"That has nothing to do with effort. Don’t get confused with effort, and adjustment. That’s totally different. We just didn’t make the adjustments that you have to make. You see what the pitcher’s doing so you try to take what he’s giving you, and basically he just made up his mind. And left-handers haven’t been hitting him.

"There’s a reason why. I saw the reason why today."

Q: Why did this game in particular stick out, as far as your team's inability to adjust?
"Just what I said. We knew what the pitcher was going to do, and he did it all day. We made absolutely no adjustments to it. We kept fighting it off to (bleeping) left field, hitting little pop-ups, instead of someone looking in there, turning on one, hitting it into the seats. The winds blowing out, 800 mph. The ball’s flying out of the ballpark. We’re sitting there fighting it off like we’ve got a hit-and-run on. That’s not good. Sorry.

"That’s just the way it is. That was disappointing

"He just kept beating left-hand hitters with fastball after fastball in there.

"Most of the left-hand hitters.

"Not good."

Q: So what do you do about the problem as a manager? "Well, I’ll talk to them about it, but now’s not the time.

"But they knew. They knew what he was going to do before the game. We looked like we were trying to stay inside the ball, and fight it off to left field instead of saying, ‘You know what, I’m going to look for one, I’m going to fly open a little bit, get the head on it, get it up in the wind, and hit it out.’ I mean, that’s baseball, that’s adjustments.

"You gotta make adjustments. That’s what was disappointing. I mean, our left-handers — other than Prince, who had pretty good at-bats — they were bad at-bats. ...

"Hughes pitched well. Don’t get me wrong. He did just what he was supposed to do. He ran the ball in there, kept taking advantage of it, and we didn’t make any adjustments to it. So he kept doing it. He did it for nine innings.

Q: Is that something you can talk about with hitters between at-bats?
"That’s hard to do, right before an at-bat to get in some guy’s mind, tell him ‘You gotta do this,’ and then that time he doesn’t go in there, and he’ll say ‘Arghh, I was looking inside.’ But if you watch him, you should have enough sense — if you’re watching the game today, as a hitter, you gotta think ‘Damn, he’s pounding us in there. I’m going to look in there and open up on one.’ I mean, the wind’s blowing out 100 mph to all fields.

"I was disappointed. We’re like chicken-winging pop-ups to the opposite field. That’s not good.

"I’m sorry. That’s just not good enough.

"We’ll talk about it, but not right now is not the time to talk about it."


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