10/15/2013 3:32 P.M. ET
Tigers hurlers fanning hitters at record pace
By Jason Beck and T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Tigers pitchers are getting opposing hitters to swing and miss at a record pace during the postseason.
Tigers pitchers went into Game 3 of the American League Championship Series having averaged 13.13 strikeouts per nine innings. That's the highest ratio for a pitching staff with at least 50 innings pitched in one postseason in Major League history.
The previous high was 9.96 strikeouts per nine innings by the Orioles' staff in 1999. The Tigers averaged 9.71 strikeouts per nine innings during the 2012 postseason. The Tigers, if they reach the World Series, would also have a shot at the most strikeouts ever by a staff in postseason. They currently have 89 strikeouts through seven games and 61 innings. The most strikeouts by a staff in one postseason was 151, by the Rangers over 16 games in 2010.
Tigers opponents have missed 33.4 percent of the time they have swung at a pitch. That's the highest ratio for a staff with at least 1,000 pitches thrown in one postseason. Their opponents have also put the ball in play on 27 percent of their swings, the lowest ratio all time in postseason play. Opponents have also put just 12.6 percent of the Tigers total pitches in play, also the lowest ratio all time.
Dirks' workout day work gets him in Game 3 lineup
DETROIT -- Two days after manager Jim Leyland said Andy Dirks would be in the lineup if he was hitting better, Dirks was back in the Tigers' lineup. He hadn't had an at-bat to show anything in between, but he faced live pitching on Monday's off-day.
Though Monday was an optional workout for most Tigers players, Leyland asked his reserves to come in to get at-bats and stay fresh. He set up live hitting against reliever Luke Putkonen, who was left off the American League Championship Series roster but has remained with the team as a potential injury replacement.
"He hit the [stuffing] out of the ball," Leyland said Tuesday morning. "He came out and faced Putkonen. We had Putkonen throw to hitters, because Putkonen needed to throw in case something happened and hitters could see some more speed rather than just BP pitchers."
Dirks has been known to hit for power in batting practice. His nine home runs in the regular season marked a career high, but it also came with by far his most playing time since he broke into the big leagues in 2011. His .363 slugging percentage was the lowest of his career.
Unless Dirks has a breakout game in Game 3 against the Red Sox, his start will likely be a one-time assignment. Leyland said Tuesday that he plans on starting Jose Iglesias at shortstop in Game 4 (8 p.m. ET, FOX) behind starting pitcher Doug Fister, owner of the fourth-highest ground ball-fly ball ratio in the Majors in the regular season. That would push Jhonny Peralta to left field.
Leyland: Coke available in Game 2, just not for Ortiz
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he was willing to use Phil Coke in the eighth inning of Game 2 in the American League Championship Series as the Red Sox rallied. He just wasn't going to use him against David Ortiz, 2-for-18 lifetime against Coke.
The lingering question of why the left-hander was warming up, then, drew an answer on Tuesday.
He was warming up, Leyland said, "in case [Joaquin] Benoit let it really get it away. I didn't want him to throw many pitches."
Benoit gave up the game-tying grand slam to Ortiz, but retired the next hitter to end the threat. Fifth starter-turned-reliever Rick Porcello replaced Benoit to begin the bottom of the ninth.
Leyland also answered why he did not load the bases and set up a force play at the plate once the Red Sox put the winning run on third base with nobody out.
"I wasn't going to load the bases because I didn't want to get stuck with [Daniel] Nava hitting for [Will] Middlebrooks with nobody out and [Jacoby] Ellsbury right behind him," Leyland said. "So I took my chances with the last three hitters."
Middlebrooks' spot at the bottom of the Boston order would have come up with two outs had Porcello retired Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew.
Miggy not an automatic to be replaced on defense
DETROIT -- Lost in the questions about Jim Leyland's bullpen use in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series was the presence of Miguel Cabrera at third base. It was the same point in the game that Leyland replaced Cabrera in Game 1 with Ramon Santiago for defense, and that was a 1-0 game.
In both games, Cabrera's spot in the order was due up fourth in the ninth inning. In the case of Game 2, there was a chance to do something big in that spot.
Cabrera was on deck when Torii Hunter popped out to end the top of the ninth inning. If the Red Sox had been shut down in the bottom half, Cabrera would've led off the 10th.
Leyland 'shocked' by news of ump Bell's passing
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland couldn't remember having a run-in with Wally Bell. He really didn't remember any specific game Bell umpired. But he remembered the personality.
That's why news of Bell's passing Monday at age 48 hit Leyland hard.
"He did a lot of [my games], I'm sure, over the years, but I always had a great relationship with him," Leyland said. "I went out and talked to him a few times. We never had any history whatsoever, I mean nothing serious. I really liked him. He always gave a good effort and was a very good umpire, but he was a great guy.
"I just really liked Wally. He was from around Youngstown [Ohio]. Well, I'm not far from there in Pittsburgh. He was just a great guy. That just breaks your heart. I was just shocked."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.