“The most important thing for me is to just stick to my guns, stick to my game,” Fister said Saturday. “When I say I’m going with feel, it’s that intuitiveness that you have, the feeling inside that you have the confidence in what you want to throw.
“So if you are sitting there trying to debate on what the scouting report said, if you’re trying to remember it or whatever, you may not be sure. You may not be confident enough to make that pitch. So, for me, I go off what my gut feeling is. That means I always have that confidence that I know I am making the right pitch at the right time, and it’s just a matter of executing it.”
Fister was 10-10 (8-4, 2.67 ERA after the All-Star break) and missed starts due to injuries on three occasions this season. He has been very good of late, including a Sept. 27 start against Kansas City during which he set an AL record by striking out nine straight batters.
“It has soaked in a little bit,” he said of his record performance. “And the more it does soak in the more humbling and such an honor it is. But I really haven’t taken any time to reflect on it. I kind of wanted to finish up the season and stay focused on what we’ve got ahead of us right now.”
Fister will start today at 12:07 opposite lefty Tommy Milone of the A’s. Milone, a 25-year-old rookie, was 13-10 during the regular season and, while much better at home, he pitched effectively in a no-decision won by Oakland, 12-4, at Comerica Park on Sept. 20.
BOESCH BENCHED: The Tigers released their roster for the ALDS late Saturday morning and outfielder Brennan Boesch, who started 123 games, but very few in the last couple weeks as Detroit pushed to the AL Central title, is not active for this opening series.
Leyland said the team opted to stick with youngsters Quintin Berry and Avisail Garcia, along with versatile backups Don Kelly and Danny Worth.
“I don’t think it was a tough decision,”Leyland said of Boesch, “but it was a sentimental decision and this isn’t the time to get sentimental. If you look at the way we’ve been playing lately and have been pretty successful, truthfully, Brennan has not been playing. He’ll stay with us, and so will [Bryan] Holaday, because you never know, your roster can change as you go a little deeper into this thing if we’re fortunate enough to go deeper.
“We tried to be versatile and Kelly gives us protection at third and first and as third catcher in an emergency. Worth is a guy who can pinch run for somebody like [Jhonny] Peralta. So there’s some versatility.”
Berry, who got 70 starts during the regular season, got the start in Saturday’s series opener, batting second and playing left field.
“I can honestly tell you, from [president-GM] Dave Dombrowski to myself to every coach, we all had the exact same roster,”Leyland said.
PEN PALS: Starter Rick Porcello and occasional starter Drew Smyly both are working out of the bullpen in the division series.
Leyland said Smyly would “be basically the second lefty out of the bullpen. I don’t know how it’s going to play out.”
The manager said he “originally didn’t think it was going to happen,” because of questions about Max Scherzer’s availability. But the Tigers determined Scherzer is healthy enough to pitch and is scheduled to start Game 4, if necessary, Wednesday in Oakland.
Porcello adds to Leyland’s comfort factor by working out of the pen.