Oct. 5 Bob Melvin pregame interview
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Bob Melvin.
Q. Bob, could you discuss your lineup change with Barton out and Seth Smith in.
BOB MELVIN: Smitty has history with Justin Verlander and the versatility with Brandon Moss we can play him at first.
Q. Bob, is today a typical playoff game or does it have more significance because you're going back to Detroit and it would be bad to go back 0‑2.
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, it would, but we try to do the best we can on a particular day. You try to forget about yesterday and win today. Certainly makes for a nicer flight when you win a game. And you don't want to go in there 0‑2, but I don't think there is more importance on one game than another. They're all just as important.
Q. Bob, what differences do you see with Justin Verlander this year as opposed to the Justin Verlander that you saw at his peak last year during the postseason?
BOB MELVIN: Not much. He's pitched his share of games very well. I mean, he's had a little bit of a rough stretch at times. I think when you have the track record that he does and then the numbers are down a little bit, I think everybody has years where, you know, you look at a baseball card, Years 1 through whatever, you're going to have a best year and you're going to have a year that doesn't look as good. But it doesn't look like the stuff is any different to me.
Q. Can you talk about the season Parker had and what you anticipate with him going back against the Tigers in Detroit?
BOB MELVIN: We always feel good when he takes the mound. He had a stretch second to none there for a while where he didn't lose in I don't know how many games it was. Broke a record here, I think.
Then he had a couple of off‑starts for him, two of his last three, I believe, but not really a drop‑off in what he does, so we always feel good when he takes the mound. That's why we targeted him for that first game in Detroit due to his experience as well pitching there last year.
Q. Did he struggle there early on?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, he had a tough first month.
Q. What did you guys do to adjust?
BOB MELVIN: He was getting in bad counts and he wasn't getting in good counts, wasn't using his change‑up effectively, fastball wasn't as good. Had a little bit of a neck strain that was bothering him, too, I think it was affecting him with his extension, but he's been consistent since then.
Q. Seth Smith, he's gone in stretches where he hasn't been in the lineup, and then when he gets in the lineup he's productive, what allows him to sit a while and not miss a beat when he does get the chance?
BOB MELVIN: He's a guy that we're comfortable with him DHin'. He has the most experience of getting at‑bats and sitting for a while and still keeping himself ready to get an at‑bat, whether it's once every three or four days or once a week, and has the most experience doing it in Colorado.
Q. Sonny pitched in a lot of great pressure games when he was in high school and college World Series, et cetera. Now that the series is 1‑0, advantage to the Tigers, what do you think is going to be the key for him in this situation?
BOB MELVIN: Well, just get ahead and throw strikes and get into a rhythm early in the game. I don't think he looks at this any differently whether we won the first game or lost the first game.
Any good starting pitcher likes to get in a good rhythm early in the game and when they do that, it seems to carry over. He also does have the ability to get better as games get along. For a young pitcher, sometimes that's difficult to do if you get off to a rough start, but we've seen him recover from tough starts. But I'm sure he's looking to get out there, and like I said, get into a rhythm right away.
Q. With 16 strikeouts last night, were you happy with your team's approach at the plate? Was it more their pitching or your hitters?
BOB MELVIN: You don't want to strikeout 16 times, but Scherzer, as you look at the video, Scherzer was good. And you look at his strikeouts to innings pitched and he strikes a lot of people out. And when he's on, he's pitching like that.
Q. Was it a cramp for Coco last night and is he at full strength today?
BOB MELVIN: Everything I'm hearing right now, yeah.
Q. Do you and Curt do anything special to prepare Sonny for today? Is there anything you have done differently?
BOB MELVIN: Not really, maybe watched a bit more video because he hasn't faced these guys before. But, again, in these games you understand the weaknesses of a hitter. I think you stick with your strengths as much as anything else.
You don't want to throw somebody your fourth‑best pitch just because he's not supposed to hit that pitch. He's got good enough stuff to go out there against any lineup and pitch to his strengths.
Q. With what happened to Coco Crisp yesterday, do you reemphasize the whole stay hydrated message?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, not me personally, but our training staff is very good about that and do that with everybody. At times you will cramp up. Maybe not in conditions like we saw yesterday, it wasn't all that hot here, but he plays pretty hard, and he's had some cramps before but he will stay well hydrated.
Q. Do you think you have an advantage tonight with Gray having never faced them, that they would be sort of weary of how to approach him?
BOB MELVIN: Usually a pitcher will have a little bit of an advantage. I mean, nowadays with technology, you get a pretty good look at a guy and know what he throws in certain counts. But until you get in the batter's box, you're not sure how the ball plays. Sometimes the velocity, the ball gets on you quicker, and the velocity, whatever, late movement. But that takes maybe all of one time around the lineup.
They got some professional hitters over there that have faced guys for the first time and I'm sure done well. But I think typically the pitcher will have a slight advantage early on.
Q. You said yesterday with Lowrie and Donaldson and who you put in the 2‑hole, it's basically a coin flip. Is there something in this match‑up with Detroit that you prefer about having the lineup the way it was yesterday?
BOB MELVIN: Not necessarily.
Q. Is there a particular reason for it?
BOB MELVIN: There is, but I'm not going to get into it, respectfully.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.