NEW YORK -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland managed Kenny Rogers through a scoreless postseason in 2006, including eight innings of two-hit ball in the World Series. With the Marlins, he managed Livan Hernandez through a 15-strikeout complete game in the 1997 National League Championship Series.
So when Leyland says he has never had a better performance in a postseason than the complete-game four-hitter Justin Verlander delivered in Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Thursday night in Oakland, it's more than mere flattery.
"I would have to say that's as good of a pitching performance as I've seen had pitched for me in a big game," Leyland said.
It's no surprise, then, that Leyland lined his ALCS rotation up to have Verlander start a potential Game 7 next weekend at Yankee Stadium.
It wasn't simply the quality of the pitches, Leyland said. It was the purpose behind it.
"What I really liked about [the game]," Leyland said, "is it really showed how much he's matured. He didn't go out and overthrow. He didn't go out and try to show the Oakland crowd."
Young sets Tigers' postseason HR record
NEW YORK -- Delmon Young has been a Tiger for less than a year and a half, and with free agency looming and Victor Martinez on track to return to Detroit's DH spot, he may not be a Tiger next year.
With his solo homer Saturday in the Tigers' 6-4, 12-inning win over the Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, however, he has claimed one bit of Tigers history. He now owns the franchise career postseason home run record with six.
Young's five home runs in nine games last postseason were enough to tie Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg and Craig Monroe. Saturday's blast off Derek Lowe in the eighth inning was his fourth postseason home run against the Yankees alone.
Young can't quite explain it.
"I have no clue about that," he said, "just trying to have good at-bats and win ballgames and trying to come out with victory. And [my] fourth postseason, I have a lot of games and at-bats under my belt. Maybe just being in here a couple of years helped."
Young has faced the Yankees in each of the last four postseasons -- twice with the Twins and twice with the Tigers. He went 5-for-24 in the 2009 and 2010 Division Series combined. He's 9-for-25 against the Yankees in the last two postseason series.
Morris impressed by Verlander's game plan
NEW YORK -- Jack Morris, the former Tigers ace who has gotten to know Justin Verlander over the years, watched Verlander's performance in Game 5 of the American League Division Series and was impressed at his approach.
To him, that's a step in the direction Verlander could eventually go as he enters the next stage of his career. He still racked up 11 strikeouts, but he didn't try to overpower every hitter.
It might not come right away, maybe not even in the next few years, but he'll eventually make the transition.
"From what I saw, he wasn't throwing a lot of fastballs in the first inning," Morris said. "He was throwing a lot of changeups, a lot of breaking balls, and he was trying to get them to swing out of the zone. Those things all help, but he still punched out 11. He still likes that, and the reason he likes it is that he's good at it.
"My point is, just my prediction, Justin will get to a point where they're not going to come as easy someday."
That's age, and it's something Morris learned in the mid-80s. He led the AL in strikeouts in 1983 and topped 200 in 1986 and '87, then got away from it as he entered his early 30s. Part of the credit, he said, goes to Doyle Alexander, who came over in the John Smoltz trade of 1987.
"The longer you're out there, the less bullets you're going to have," Morris said. "At some point in his career, he's going to realize, 'I don't have what I once had.' But you know what? He might become a better pitcher then."
Scherzer to be well rested for Game 4
NEW YORK -- Max Scherzer says he feels fine after his five-plus innings last Wednesday in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the A's. He could have pitched Game 3 if needed. The Tigers' decision to move him back was more about having Justin Verlander pitch twice than having Scherzer pitch just once.
That said, manager Jim Leyland believes the rest could be a benefit. Scherzer will have two extra days of rest before he starts Game 4 of the AL Championship Series on Wednesday at Comerica Park.
"Max Scherzer, more than any of them, is always honest about how he feels," Leyland said. "He came out of [his last start] good, some normal soreness."
Unlike their division-clinching win Oct. 1 in Kansas City, Scherzer came out of the ALDS celebration fine, too. His only news out of the celebration was the pair of goggles he found to protect his eyes from the champagne. The goggles matched his eyes -- one brown, the other blue. Scherzer said his girlfriend bought them for him.
Contemplating Miggy's power potential in Bronx
NEW YORK -- As good as Miguel Cabrera's numbers were this year in his Triple Crown season, the power numbers he could post in Yankee Stadium with its short right-field dimensions might dwarf what he has done in Detroit.
Funny thing is, while Cabrera has seven home runs at Yankee Stadium since it opened three years ago, less than half of them have gone to right field despite his freakish opposite-field swing. He has two homers to left and two to left-center.
One possible reason is that Cabrera's opposite-field homers tend to be line drives. He's more likely to get the ball in the air when he's pulling the ball.
His recent numbers have trended in that direction as well. Eleven of his last 14 home runs have gone to left or left-center field.
No complaints about quick turnaround
NEW YORK -- The Tigers didn't arrive home from Oakland on Friday morning until the sun was coming up. They didn't leave for New York on Friday night until the sun had long since set.
Yes, the Yankees had the quick turnaround on the field, going from Game 5 of the their American League Division Series on Friday night to the AL Championship Series opener Saturday. But the Tigers didn't have it easy by any stretch.
They landed in New York around midnight.
"Got to the hotel about [12:40 a.m.], I think," Leyland said. "Tough go."
That said, Leyland didn't want to complain too much.
"I don't worry about the small stuff. That's small stuff to me," Leyland said. "At this time of the year, if you are playing and you are complaining, there is something wrong with you. We are still playing and we are in the final four. It is what it is."