Tigers manager Jim Leyland made one thing clear before even touching on the topic of tough postseason moves: ``I'm not going to pinch hit for Cabrera.''
Nope, Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera would be batting for the Tigers with the season on the line, all right. Even after Yankees manager Joe Girardi's switch to pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez in place of Alex Rodriguez paid off huge with a stunning two-homer night in Wednesday's 3-2, 12-inning victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
``You have to be prepared for everything. And you try to be prepared for everything,'' Leyland said before Game 5 of the AL division series in Oakland.
Leyland spent the afternoon leading up to Thursday's game watching baseball with his wife at the team hotel. But he still had plenty of thoughts about two thrillers on each coast a night earlier.
Ibanez hit a tying homer in the bottom of the ninth and a game-ending drive in the 12th.
``So far it's been a great postseason,'' Leyland said. ``What happened last night in New York is mind-boggling.''
Detroit led its best-of-five division series 2-0 when it arrived in Oakland, but lost the next two. The A's rallied for a 4-3 victory against closer Jose Valverde on Wednesday in another dramatic finish for the low-budget club.
Leyland has seen it all in 21 years as a manager and knows not to get too high or too low at this stage.
``I don't want to sound casual about this kind of stuff because, don't get me wrong, the game broke our heart,'' Leyland said. ``But at the same time, you learn over the years that, like I always use the expression, you can't chew yesterday's breakfast. The game is over. They beat us. They earned it.''
REMOTE CHANCE: Orioles left fielder Nate McLouth had no problem avoiding the constant TV replays of Raul Ibanez's two homers that led the Yankees to a 3-2, 12-inning victory in Game 3.
His wife was with him in New York.
When his wife traveled with the team, McLouth has little chance at watching sports recap shows.
``I can promise you we're not watching many highlights after the game, unless they show them on the Food Network,'' McLouth said.
McLouth has a team-high four hits in 13 at-bats in the postseason entering Game 4 but he doesn't get control of the remote in the hotel.
``I think we stuck with `Property Brothers' last night, so I haven't seen the replay yet,'' he said. ``It's not something you want to sit there and watch 10 times in your room afterwards.''
SHIFTING SPOTS: Oakland's Josh Donaldson looked like a natural third baseman when he dived into foul territory to rob Detroit's Johnny Peralta of a hit late in Game 4 of their AL division series.
Yet Donaldson, a catcher by trade, had never played third base in the majors until this season but has excelled there for the Athletics since being recalled from the minors in August.
``Josh Donaldson is a great athlete,'' manager Bob Melvin said. ``His position is catcher, but he could probably play anywhere on the diamond. He's a football player, baseball player, truly a guy that could probably play anywhere on the diamond. We're lucky to have those athletes.''
Donaldson is far from alone in learning a new position in Oakland's patchwork infield. Outfielder Brandon Moss became a power-hitting first baseman who looks natural scooping throws in the dirt and shortstop Cliff Pennington moved to second base late in the season.
Only shortstop Stephen Drew is playing his natural position in the playoffs for the A's.
``It's been a little bit of a work-in-progress,'' Melvin said. ``I think our defense is as good as it's been all year now.''

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