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Jose Valverde falters and Rangers take 3-1 lead in ALCS

Oct 12, 2011, 10:40 PM EDT

Jose Valverde AP

The Tigers never asked Jose Valverde to get more than three outs during the regular season. On Wednesday, they asked him to do it for the second time in three days, and it backfired in a big way.

Mike Napoli delivered an RBI single and Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer in the top of the 11th as the Rangers dropped the Tigers 7-3 to take a 3-1 lead in the ALCS. Valverde, who pitched a scoreless 10th in a tie game, struggled having already pitched two innings on Monday and one to earn a save Tuesday.

Valverde remains a perfect 52-for-52 in save situations this year (49-for-49 in the regular season, 3-for-3 in October), but he has frequently struggled while working in tie games or with the Tigers behind (he had a 5.79 ERA in non-save situations during the regular season). Since there was no chance of a save situation for the Tigers in extra innings tonight, manager Jim Leyland was certainly right to bring Valverde in for the 10th in a tie game. Keeping him out for the 11th for his fifth inning in three days was the questionable decision.

The Rangers also made a questionable decision of their own in the 11th. Scott Feldman, who has been awesome in the postseason, pitched a perfect 10th, throwing just 11 pitches. He certainly seemed like a very good bet to hold on to a four-run lead in the 11th. Manager Ron Washington went by the book, though, and turned the ball over to his closer anyway. Neftali Feliz had an easy inning to secure the victory, but given that the Rangers are playing the next two days, one could certainly argue that there was more to be gained by saving him for Thursday.

The decisions from both Jim Leyland and Washington figure to have ramifications in a close game Game 5. Valverde will certainly be available with the Tigers’ season on the line, but who knows how effective he’ll be? The Rangers, on the other hand, might shy away from Alexi Ogando, who threw two innings tonight, and while they’ll have Feliz in the ninth, they probably won’t extend him beyond three outs.

  1. jimbo1949 - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:47 PM

    Won’t use Verlander on short rest, but will overuse Valverde? Well, I guess he knows his players better than anyone.

    • tacklemeelmo - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:31 AM

      It’s up to each person to decide what “overusing” is, but I’m just saying Valverde on threw 8 pitches in his first inning tonight.

      • natstowngreg - Oct 13, 2011 at 9:04 AM

        Plus, the Tigers were facing a possible 3 games to 1 deficit, and it wasn’t like Leyland had a lot of good options. Credit to the Rangers, and Nelson Cruz in particular, for coming up with the big hits.

  2. Francisco (FC) - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:47 PM

    It wasn’t the only questionable decision. Are there no pinch-runners in Detroit? Cabrera should have been substituted for a runner on 3rd and 1 out. If you score, then you only worry about the next three outs. Runs were at a premium. In the end Cabrera’s big bat was a non-factor later in the game.

    • philliesblow - Oct 13, 2011 at 8:02 AM

      Not pinch running was the correct decision. You have to consider the situation. Delmon Young was up and he’s turned into a strike out machine. Following him was Alex Avila who also isn’t hitting. Odds were better than even that both strike out and now your best hitter is out of a tie game. Other than Austin Jackson, there is no real speed on the Tigers. Cruz made a great throw. He was also fortunate that the fly ball was in front of him so his momentum was coming to the plate. If he had to go toward right center Cabrera would have had a better chance to beat the throw.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:31 PM

        I stand by my comment. Just the fact that you have two inept hitters coming up means you should make every effort to get a speedy guy in third (or at least someone faster) and maybe make a surprise suicide squeeze bunt, or hopefully they make contact to get the sac fly or chopper or whatever. By leaving Cabrera Leyland was counting on those guys doing exactly what you said they were incapable of: Hitting!

        Here’s one more angle: you know the Rangers bullpen has more depth. You know your own Bullpen is gassed. If you’re going to gamble, go for all the marbles, try to shorten the game and win it in the 8th.

  3. polegojim - Oct 13, 2011 at 1:26 AM

    Yes, Cabrera should’ve held and when Anderson was stealing, a fake bunt should’ve been attempted to obscure the throw……..BUT

    Lots of second guessing in baseball – in the end, the Rangers got it done. Congrats to them.

    We’re still alive and need to simply focus on game 5.

    Let’s Go TIGERS, dig deep.

  4. joreaze1987 - Oct 13, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    I am so disappointed that people are pegging this on Valverde…How about putting the blame for the loss of Game four where it belongs….LEYLAND!!!!….Too many ridiculous decisions/calls from him to even list here….

  5. leylandhater - Oct 13, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    Tigers should decline to pickup his option for 2011. Then again this is the same DUMB organizaion that gave Leyland and extension for nothing. Fully expect that we see an 10 year deal for Dombrowski

  6. foreverchipper10 - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    A little presumptious saying that they shouldn’t have used Feliz since they will be playing the next two days.

  7. damnyankee13 - Oct 13, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    What? no dance? Real closers dont need flash, like Mo

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