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10/11/06 1:27 AM ET

Brandon Inge postgame interview

Detroit third baseman says team is focused in postseason

Brandon, you had struggled a little bit in the Yankees series, and Jim was talking about how you guys saw kind of the way the Yankees approached hitting, being more patient, and all of you guys were tonight, and I believe your home run was on a 2-1 pitch. Can you talk about your approach and the at-bat where you got the home run?

BRANDON INGE: Kind of the ironic thing was I was trying to look out over the plate again Zito because I noticed he pounded us in, but they weren't really for strikes, just to get him off his outside pitches. So I was kind of looking out over the plate, and I guess my hands didn't quite cooperate with my mind. He throws a fastball in and I ended up pulling it down the line, which I'm not going to complain about. He's a great pitcher and you have to get him in the zone because he'll make you fish for a lot of pitches.

The team had been waiting for a couple months to kind of regain their early season, mid-season form typically right at the end. Last four games you're playing complete games. Do you feel like this team is kind of back with the mentality and executing the way you did when you ran up the great record?

BRANDON INGE: Yeah. I think coming down the stretch of our season, I think we were putting a little bit too much pressure on ourselves and we weren't playing good baseball at that point, I think, because we were trying too hard. Now we get into the postseason and there's a lot of guys who have not been in postseason play here, including myself, and when you get out on that field there's just such a sense of focus and adrenaline rush that I think we're really concentrating every single pitch, every at-bat, everyone is just really concentrating really well. I think it gets the most out of our team. I think that's what we need to do is really concentrate, and I think we were lacking that down the stretch.

How important is it for you and the other guys at the bottom of the lineup to provide some pop? As you know, three guys near the bottom all had 25 homers or more. And how much did your homer kind of change the mood in the dugout?

BRANDON INGE: Well, I'm not going to say there was a sense of urgency. The first couple innings, I'm sure if you ask Oakland, too, that shadow on the backdrop weighs pretty tough, and you've got Zito who has an unbelievable change up and he spots the ball well. It was important for us to jump ahead tonight first because they've got a lineup that if they get hot they can start running with it. To get that first one out of the way, of course for me I didn't have a very good Division Series. But anyone in the lineup can jump up and get them. I just was fortunate to get a pitch to drive.

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Three for 24 lifetime against Zito before tonight. Did you come in with some sort of different strategy?

BRANDON INGE: I guess, maybe just make contact. I didn't realize I was three for 24 off him. I'm glad I didn't know that stat before I faced him. I know he's a great pitcher; he's got unbelievable control, and you honestly need to get him in the zone or else you're going to swing at some bad pitches. I'm a guy who's pretty aggressive and I'll chase some bad pitches, and I think tonight -- the whole team, I think we did a pretty good job on keeping him on the plate.

How big is it to win Game One and especially on the road?

BRANDON INGE: Well, it's huge, get a little momentum going, but we can learn something from the Division Series that we just played. Those of us who haven't been in post season, Yankees jumped out and won the first game against us and we came back and swept them all three. I understand this is a seven game series instead of five, but with that you can learn a lesson that you're never comfortable, especially in the postseason, and with the pitching staff that they have, you have to play hard every single day you come out there; otherwise these guys have the potential to come out and sweep you.

Just wondering what you're thinking when you go into your last at-bat. You're a hitter who has three of the hits in the cycle. Are you aware of it? Do you think about it?

BRANDON INGE: Of course I was aware of it. Anyone who's going through that has been aware of it. But on the flipside of not getting any hits basically in the Division Series, this is not a one-man team because of the Championship Series. We have nine guys that can do any amount of damage, and just because I have a pretty good game, I really to be honest with you -- it doesn't matter. It would be great, but one guy is not going to do it for the team and I'm happy we all went out and contributed the way we did.

It looks so much like the team is firing on all cylinders now. Which was more stressful, the last weekend of the season against Kansas City or the first game of the playoffs?

BRANDON INGE: I'd say the last game against Kansas City because we were in a lose-lose situation; if we won against Kansas City we were supposed to, and if we lost, shame on us. Kansas City played great baseball. You've got to tip your hat to them. This is postseason. It's kind of a new slate. It's wiped clean, and we can go out there now and forget about everything that happened in the season and just go out there and have some fun and play some good hard baseball.

Can you just describe your range of emotions from that last game, the game where you had an at-bat and you pulled a ball that would have been a grand slam, would have clinched the Central, and tonight the ball just stays fair and it really set the tone for the game?

BRANDON INGE: It's a game of inches, isn't it? That was one of the worst games I had had personally, from a personal standpoint. I took it pretty heavy on my heart because I want to do everything that I can to win ballgames. I want to dive for balls, make nice plays to save our pitching staff and help out everything. That game just didn't go our way. I felt I was somewhat responsible and I'm sure there's other guys that could have looked at it the same way. To get that game over with and go into Yankee Stadium and play the way we did, and tonight I contributed a little bit. I'm very happy I was able to contribute tonight.

What was the difference tonight for you from the Division Series? You mentioned maybe swinging at better pitches. Was it that simple? Can you convey the difference for you?

BRANDON INGE: I was getting pitched pretty tough against the Yankees. I didn't see too many balls that were out over the plate or caught the middle part of the plate. It seemed like every pitch was right on the black or maybe an inch off and they were good pitcher's pitches. I have to give them credit when they do that. Also the ones I did get over the plate, I didn't take advantage of. Tonight I saw some balls that were more on the plate and I was a little more patient, got myself into better hitting counts, and it kind of worked out a little better for me.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.