Oct 11, 2012, 1:27 AM EDT
The A’s had four hits in eight innings Wednesday and then doubled their total in the ninth. Pouncing all over Jose Valverde with their season down to its last three outs, the A’s scored three runs to beat the Tigers.
In so doing, the A’s left Jim Leyland with a major dilemma: who does he call on if he has a lead in the ninth in Thursday’s Game 5?
Valverde hasn’t had his good splitter at any point in the season. He was rather successful anyway, converting 35 of 40 save chances. However, his strikeout rate took a big dive and was easily the lowest of his career. As a result, his batting average against, while still quite good at .229, was the highest mark of his career.
That Valverde remained as decent as he was in 2012 can largely be attributed to the deception in his delivery. His unique motion and release makes him pretty tough to pick up. And if he doesn’t like the matchup, he’s not afraid to work around a tough lefty to get to a righty he thinks he can handle.
But repetition isn’t Valverde’s friend at this point. The A’s saw him in September and hit him. They’ve now seen him twice in a week. If they get him yet again in Game 5, it’d be no surprise to see things again get ugly in a hurry.
Maybe Justin Verlander will make it moot. No starter in the postseason is more capable of getting 27 outs all by himself. If Verlander does need to leave after seven or eight with a lead, then the A’s may need to try mixing and matching righties Al Alburquerque and Octavio Dotel and lefty Phil Coke in the ninth. Alburquerque is the Tigers’ best reliever right now, but he’s never faced the kind of pressure he would Thursday. He also hasn’t really been tested on back-to-back days since returning from an elbow injury.
As for Joaquin Benoit, who would have been the fallback a week ago, he’s allowed runs in four of his last six appearances, and tonight may well have made it five if Brandon Moss hadn’t gotten himself out with two men on in the eighth. He could always pitch the eighth again, but he scarcely seems like a better bet than Valverde at the moment.
If Leyland does go back to Valverde in the ninth inning Thursday, it’d be sheer stubbornness. There’s no place left for that with the season on the line.
May 21, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT
Paul Lukas of UniWatch figured out that MLB is putting all teams in uniforms with camouflage design highlights on Memorial Day. He figured it out because the team store for each team has the jerseys on sale, with the note “as worn on-field, Memorial Day, May 27, 2013.” I’m informed by an MLB source that the…
May 21, 2013, 1:20 PM EDT
Indians closer Chris Perez has been pretty active on Twitter over the years, but apparently the negative comments following a blown save Saturday and another poor outing Monday led him to delete the account last night. I can’t imagine having to deal with the angry, ugly comments that athletes receive on Twitter every day, let…
May 21, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT
Matt Kemp is an Oklahoma native, so the tragedy in Oklahoma City yesterday certainly hit home for him. He’s doing something about it: I’m giving $1000 for tonight’s HR and every HR until the All-Star break for the victims of my hometown in OKC. #PrayforOklahoma — Matt Kemp (@TheRealMattKemp) May 21, 2013 So too is…
May 21, 2013, 12:52 PM EDT
When last we saw Samuel Deduno he was playing hero for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, beating the United States and then Puerto Rico to win the title. He ended up not making the Twins out of spring training because of a groin injury suffered during the WBC, but Deduno is healthy…
May 21, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT
I know it’s hard to believe that a guy who alienated his entire clubhouse in Atlanta and then made headlines buy putting homophobic slurs on his eyeblack in Toronto did something douchey, but in this case it actually happened. Yunel Escobar, ladies and gents, playing Jedi master to Jordany Valdespin‘s padawan, strutting after a home…
May 21, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT
Logan Morrison began a minor-league rehab assignment last night, going 2-for-5 with two singles at Single-A. Morrison has been on the disabled list all season as he recovers from September knee surgery and he hasn’t played for the Marlins since last July. He’s already behind the initial timetable laid out, but barring more setbacks Morrison…
May 21, 2013, 11:33 AM EDT
People who know a bit about EPL soccer sometimes make comparisons between the big English soccer teams and the big major league baseball teams in order to explain the dynamic of that league to we soccer ignoramuses. Like, I once heard someone say Man U. was like the Yankees. Or maybe Arsenal. And Chelsea was…
May 21, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT
Jim Johnson being nearly flawless in the closer role played a huge part in the Orioles’ unexpected success last season, but suddenly he’s really struggling. Johnson converted 35 straight saves from July 30, 2012 to May 13, 2013, during which time he threw 44 innings with a 0.61 ERA. That streak came to an end…
May 21, 2013, 11:02 AM EDT
I guess whether this is truly “must-click” depends on how you roll. But if you like to look at once-young, once-handsome athletes in swimsuits, towels and, in a couple of cases, nothing but strategically-posed thighs — or if you’re not necessarily into that but are secure enough in your masculinity to appreciate how hilarious such…
May 21, 2013, 10:47 AM EDT
Josh Johnson made his first minor-league rehab start yesterday, throwing three innings of one-run ball at Single-A. Johnson, who’s been out since April 21 with a strained triceps, struck out five and walked zero while allowing three hits against the Mets’ affiliate. Johnson had hoped to be back in the Blue Jays’ rotation by now,…
May 21, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT
This is a short article in the Pioneer Press, but two nuggets from it: Justin Morneau is pretty ambivalent about autographs because he knows most of the people trying to get them are memorabilia guys who are going to turn around and sell it; and His autographs are very legible because Harmon Killebrew told him…
May 21, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT
Corey Hart is eligible to come off the disabled list on May 30, but Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that the Brewers first baseman won’t be ready to return from right knee surgery by then. However, he has progressed enough to take batting practice yesterday and doing some running on the field. There’s still no…
May 21, 2013, 9:46 AM EDT
I heard someone mention this yesterday but thought they were joking. Andy Martino of the Daily News, however, quotes Phillies broadcaster Rickie Ricardo, who claims that Aroldis Chapman ate 18 cream cheese-guava pastries before Sunday’s game. The game in which he blew the save, giving up a walkoff homer to Freddy Galvis: “Could you imagine cream…
May 21, 2013, 9:15 AM EDT
Some guys have 80 velocity, some guys have 80 movement. Some guys have 80 lack of impulse control: Ryan Mattheus will be placed on the disabled list after breaking his right hand Sunday in San Diego, an injury that didn’t occur during the Nationals’ 13-4 loss to the Padres but afterward when the right-hander punched…
May 21, 2013, 8:53 AM EDT
I’m not sure why anyone would find that sentiment, voiced by Barry Bonds to Bob Nightengale, to be controversial. But I imagine they will. Anyway, here were the Home Run King’s exact words about Miguel Cabrera: “He’s definitely the best. It’s not rocket science here. He’s the best. By far. Without a doubt. The absolute best…
May 21, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT
And he did it while batting: Vogelsong was in the middle of easily his best start of the season when he swung at an inside pitch from Craig Stammen. The ball appeared to hit him squarely on the knuckles of his right hand, and Vogelsong was in obvious pain. He left the game and was…
May 21, 2013, 6:49 AM EDT
Dodgers 3, Brewers 1: After the last scene of Don Mattingly’s managerial life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that at many times along the path of his time in Los Angeles, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints. Clayton Kershaw then whispered, “My precious…
May 21, 2013, 2:08 AM EDT
Move over Clay Buchholz. Marlins starter Alex Sanabia went old school on Monday, bypassing the sunscreen and rosin and simply hocking a big ol’ loogie on the baseball after giving up a home run to the Phillies’ Domonic Brown. The video isn’t embeddable yet, but here’s the link to it at MLB.com, as well as…
May 20, 2013, 10:36 PM EDT
The Nationals have Bryce Harper back in the starting lineup tonight against the Giants, but it appears that Jayson Werth‘s absence from a hamstring injury will be a little longer than initially expected. Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Amanda Comak of the Washington Times that he received an “alarming” report on Werth today. No word…
May 20, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT
After Jonny Venters underwent Tommy John surgery last week, another Braves’ reliever is headed for the same fate. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, left-hander Eric O’Flaherty will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery tomorrow. It doesn’t come as a big surprise, as he was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his…
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