10/26/06 9:30 PM ET
Notes: Leyland shuffles order
Tigers scramble after Wednesday rainout; patience with Pujols
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Tigers manager Jim Leyland is sticking with his guys as the World Series heads towards the finish, whatever the result. As he put it, it'll give the second-guessers something to talk about, but he doesn't care.
"These are our guys," Leyland said. "They got us here. We need to win it or lose it with those guys, and that's what I want to do, and that's what I should do."
Leyland told reporters after Wednesday's rainout that he'd keep the same lineup for Thursday. He didn't project anything about his rotation Wednesday night other than to say that Jeremy Bonderman would start Game 4, whatever day it would take place. That led to speculation that he might push up Kenny Rogers to start Game 5, which he could do on his normal rest thanks to the rainout.
As it turned out, Leyland said he never gave it serious consideration.
"We've got to win three games," Leyland said. "So [with] Bonderman, Verlander, Rogers and Robertson, somehow we've got to win three of the four [potential remaining games]."
The assignment allows Rogers to stay on track to start at home for Game 6, the key point being at home. Though Leyland didn't initially list starting him at Comerica Park as a factor, he admitted that was at least in his mind. After the publicity raised over Dirtgate in Game 2 and the furor that followed on sports radio in St. Louis, to start him at Busch Stadium would've rekindled the controversy to a point where it overshadowed the series itself.
Even had the Game 2 incident never happened, Leyland said, he probably wouldn't have made a change.
"I want him to pitch at home, where they love him," Leyland said.
Nor did Leyland consider bumping Bonderman from his Game 4 assignment with the extra day. One appeal to starting Bonderman in Busch Stadium is that without the designated hitter, the Cardinals can't load up an extra left-handed hitter with Chris Duncan, Scott Spiezio or John Rodriguez. The same goes with Verlander, whose double to Duncan might've been the key hit in his Game 1 loss.
But most importantly, Leyland's going with his guys because he has relied on all of them to get this team this far.
"Jeremy Bonderman is one of our horses," Leyland said. "He deserves to pitch in the World Series. And I believe in loyalty. And I think Jeremy Bonderman is going to give us a pretty good performance. But I'm not going to start discarding guys who've been there for us all year. Guys that have been our horses, they got us to the World Series. They deserve the right to pitch in it. And I'm pitching them, win, lose or draw.
"If somebody wants to have a field day second-guessing, I don't give a [care] what they do, I can tell you that right now. And I'm not going to pitch Kenny Rogers in this environment. I'm not going to do it."
Persistence with Pujols: For all the talk about the need to contain Albert Pujols, the Cardinals slugger entered Game 4 batting just 2-for-10 this series. Yet both hits have been valuable, the two-run homer in Game 1 and the double in Game 3, on top of Joel Zumaya's two-run error on what might've been a double-play ball had Zumaya thrown to second base.
The bigger problem was the hitting of the guys behind Pujols in the order, both Scott Rolen (5-for-12, four runs scored) and Jim Edmonds (4-for-9, four RBIs). Their success, Leyland said, directly affects how the Tigers can approach Pujols.
"We're going to try to be real careful with him, obviously," Leyland said. "But I don't know if I'm going to walk Albert Pujols every time he walks up."
Plan accordingly: As of now, the World Series schedule still calls for Game 6 on Saturday night at Comerica Park. However, Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said during batting practice Thursday evening he still hasn't heard definitely that there won't be a travel day after Game 5, unlikely as it seems.
Dombrowski said the Tigers' input on that would "probably be minimal." If it were up to him, however, he wouldn't have it, not after all the time off the Tigers have had already.
"I'd rather just keep playing at this point," Dombrowski said. "We've had enough off-days. We've had a lot of off-days here in the last couple weeks. I'd rather play four straight days at this point, if we can."
As it is, Wednesday's postponement has already forced the Tigers to scramble in St. Louis. Traveling secretary Bill Brown spent most of Wednesday night trying to work out a deal with their team hotel to stay an extra day.
Once that was taken care of, they worked out a way for several Tigers family members to get back home in time for Game 6, something that was turning out to be nearly impossible with so many flights full. Some of them will return on the private flight that had been arranged for about 100 front-office employees.
Weather center: The temperatures were somewhat better for Game 4 Thursday with 53 degrees announced at first pitch. It gave the Tigers bullpen a break from what they've found to be chilly conditions in an outdoor bullpen at Busch Stadium.
"We have electric [heaters]," Todd Jones said Wednesday afternoon, "and literally it's like an 18-inch circumference that you're warm. So there's like 12 guys huddled over like a barrel on the side of the street, you know what I mean? Like you're singing around a barrel back on one of the side streets or whatever. We're like huddling up, but it's not doing any good. I hope both teams have to have them. If we've got one heater and they've got more, I'm jealous.
"I think a lot of guys are going to stay in the clubhouse for a couple innings just to try to stay warm, I mean, it's tough out there to pitch in the World Series, and against the Cardinals, and to do it frozen is not very good. But both teams have to deal with it. I'm just making a joke about it, but I'd like to see it be a little warmer."
E-1: The three errors by Tigers pitchers over the first three games of this series tied the record for pitchers errors for an entire World Series. Six other teams have done it, most recently Leyland's 1997 Marlins. Coincidentally, five of those six teams went on to win their series, including the Cardinals over the Tigers in 1934. None of those teams, however, did it in the first three games of the series.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.