Leyland: 'We had to do something'

BY foxsports • October 16, 2013

By DANA WAKIJI
FOXSportsDetroit.com


DETROIT
-- As Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "We had to do something."

That something was moving Austin Jackson out of the leadoff spot to eighth in the lineup for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday.

"I think I"m actually doing Austin Jackson a favor," Leyland said. "I think he's getting kicked around pretty good right now. It's easy to kick people when they're down.

"I am sticking with him. I'm just putting him in a different spot. I think the magnitude of that leadoff spot, the strikeouts so far, it's gotta get to you a little bit."

Torii Hunter started the game batting leadoff for the first time since July 4, 1999.

Jackson -- who hit .272 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs and scored 99 runs during the regular season -- has had a miserable postseason.

He's batting .091 (3 for 33) with 18 strikeouts. The next closest player in terms of strikeouts is Hunter, who has 10.

"You’re trying no matter what," Jackson said after Game 3. "If you don’t try hard enough, I guess you wouldn’t be trying. You just gotta keep battling. That’s all you can do."

Hunter said he's been giving Jackson advice all season.

"This guy has all the athletic ability in the world," Hunter said. "God has blessed him tremendously. All he has to do is trust it."

Hunter was followed by Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila, Omar Infante, Jackson and Jose Iglesias.

"Basically, I just moved everybody up," Leyland said. "In the first inning, we'll have Hunter, who's had some success, who's tough and who's had some success against (Jake) Peavy. Then I follow it up with two guys who can hit it out of the ballpark."

In his long career, Hunter has hit leadoff in just 25 games, batting .164 (11 of 67) with two doubles, a triple, four walks and 13 strikeouts.

"For me, I don't change my approach too much," Hunter said. "You only lead off the beginning of the game, then you're just up there."

Although Leyland said the Boston Red Sox pitchers have been very good, he felt he needed to do something different to try to get his hitters going.

"I thought long and hard if I could come up with something," Leyland said. "I think it makes a lot of sense.

"We scored one run and no runs in two of the three games, so it certainly can't hurt. We're going to take a shot."

Only Martinez (.419) and Peralta (.417) have hit well in the postseason. Even Cabrera, who is still ailing with the abdominal injury, is batting .226.

Fielder is hitting .276 but has only one extra-base hit, a double, and no RBIs.

"He hasn't hit a ball out of the ballpark or a lot of extra-base hits," Leyland said. "That happens. That's just part of it.

"It's like I've always said, when he stands in the batter's box, you think something big can happen at any time, and I still feel that way."

As a team, the Tigers are batting .231 in the postseason. It's even worse for the Red Sox, who are hitting .224.

These were the top two American League offenses in the regular season.

"We gotta try something," Leyland said. "We gotta get on the board somehow. We gotta get some runs.

"You gotta kind of be a little creative with what we've got. That's what I tried to do, for better or worse."


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