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In bizarre fashion, Jose Valverde’s meltdown pays off for Tigers

Oct 14, 2012, 1:27 AM EDT

Jose Valverde AP

For all of the drama, Detroit pulled out Saturday’s Game 1 by a 6-4 score in 12 innings. And thanks to Jose Valverde‘s four-run ninth inning, the Tigers…

- were able to extend the Yankees pen prior to Hiroki Kuroda making his first ever start on three days’ rest on Sunday. Rafael Soriano and David Robertson both worked in extras. So did David Phelps, who would have been the long man Sunday had Kuroda struggled.

- hopefully guaranteed that Valverde will never work in another close game in the series. Valverde doesn’t seem to be deceiving anyone with his 92-94 mph fastball at the moment and he’s been struggling with his splitter for months. That Valverde was so awful in blowing his second straight lead should mean Jim Leyland will give Al Alburquerque and Octavio Dotel increased responsibility going forward, which is a very good thing for the Tigers.

The extra-inning game also resulted in Derek Jeter‘s fractured ankle, putting him out for the postseason. The Tigers don’t want any credit for that, and they’d surely rather have beaten the Yankees at their best. That said, it certainly helps their chances of winning the ALCS that the Yankees will be without their captain the rest of the way.

  1. philliesblow - Oct 14, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    Interesting spin. So is Valverde is the early leader for series MVP?

    • 78mu - Oct 14, 2012 at 7:57 AM

      If Leyland keeps using him in critical situations (or even with a 4 run lead) the Yankees may vote him their MVP and a share of the playoff money.

    • Brian Donohue - Oct 14, 2012 at 10:50 AM

      My headline for this post: “in bizarre fashion, nbc scribe over-analyzes Valverde meltdown”. Let’s try a brief Shakespeareian analysis instead (after Hamlet):

      “My Lord, why are the Yankees losing — what do you read?”
      “RISP…RISP…RISP…Run producers that produceth not.”

  2. historiophiliac - Oct 14, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    Perhaps Valverde should sleep with one eye open tonight…

  3. mookie311 - Oct 14, 2012 at 1:49 AM

    does any team really care that much if an injury to an opposing team helps them survive and advance? i mean for a moment, intellectually, i’m sure some of the tigers will feel it. but i’d have to imagine they’ll get over their disappointment pretty quickly if they’re on a plane to st. louis or san francisco.

  4. normcash - Oct 14, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    You’re right…I thought the same thing. If Ibanez doesn’t hit that homer, the yankees are still down 0-1 in the series, but they have Jeter. The baseball gods are cruel and can’t be fathomed…

  5. willclarkgameface - Oct 14, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    Valverde is a douche. Leyland needs to get a new closer in there right now. NOW is the time to get the WIN and it ain’t gonna happen with Valverde in there trying to close games. He’s off the rails right now.

    Don’t be so old skool Leyland. It won’t help you win. Time to reconfigure.

    • Old Gator - Oct 14, 2012 at 6:37 AM

      Love that tone of “voice” of yours. Think Leyland is listening?

      You do?

  6. vincentbojackson - Oct 14, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    Game 2 is make or break for Yanks. The way they’re hitting right now, I really can’t see them getting by Scherzer and Verlander (maybe twice).

    • nworca - Oct 14, 2012 at 2:10 AM

      And you might have added that they have to face Fister again (unless they lose in 4, which is possible). 6 and a third, zero runs, and getting out of 3 bases loaded jams. There’s a reason the Tigers put him number two in their rotation.

      • frank433 - Oct 14, 2012 at 2:54 AM

        Was it because he lined up there on normal rest?

  7. edelmanfanclub - Oct 14, 2012 at 2:26 AM

    Valverde is to predictable, Let Dotel close… I named my first bowl after him cuz he throws HEAT!!! lol

  8. xmatt0926x - Oct 14, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    Jeter or not, does anyone look at these 2 teams and really see the Yankees as the better team? I don’t know why the Tigers didn’t perform more consistently during the regular season but their team is just better. The Yankees look old and beat, Granderson has made himself into a one trick pony, Arod is an old man who’s body is begging for the juice that he can’t use anymore, Kuroda has to pitch on short rest, Sabathia gets just 1 start this series. This is the Tigers series to lose, Jeter or not. I also love Ibanez but those 320 foot “bombs” won’t be tying up games in any other park.

    • temporarilyexiled - Oct 14, 2012 at 10:21 AM

      You make a lot of really great points.

      Detroit is built more for the postseason. They lack depth, but have a few pitchers and position players who are the best in the sport. Not so great for a long season, but tough to beat in October.

      Also, I actually wonder if Sabathia does get another start. He’s one of the few who can pitch well on short rest.

      The real problem is that he may indeed pitch the last game of the series. But it’s just as likely to be game four as game seven.

  9. Old Gator - Oct 14, 2012 at 6:43 AM

    I’m not much of a designatedhitterball fan and haven’t followed the Tiggers closely this season, at least not until we could sniff the playoffs. Apparently Valverde can’t throw a pea past a cyclops anymore and has melted down pretty frequently. Any Detroit fans out there who care to elaborate, beyond the obvious firepower up and down the lineup, upon how the team got this far with a closer this bad?

    • detroitr1 - Oct 14, 2012 at 8:26 AM

      Max Scherzer and Doug Fister. Comerica Park. Austin Jackson’s defense.

      With Valverde, you can’t easily draw a straight line and say he was this bad from game 1 to 162. Sometimes he would have a 1-2-3 inning. He has pitched for us for 3 seasons now (2010 being the best stuff-wise outside of the number of saves he recorded in 2011). With his velocity down, I think an injury of some kind might be the cause.

      • stex52 - Oct 14, 2012 at 2:58 PM

        Going back to his time with Houston. Valverde has always gotten a lot of saves. He has also had a way of making them all exciting. When he left I missed his gutsiness and passion. But saves became just a little less tense with almost anyone else.

  10. legacybroken - Oct 14, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    Yank’s need to at least win today to have any shot. Facing Verlander, Scherzer and Fister in Comerica where all three of them feed off that crowds energy will be tough.

  11. tebowspeech - Oct 14, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    Here’s an outside the box idea:

    Make Max Scherzer the closer for the rest of the playoffs. When he had struggled in the past, I had thought he had a future in the bullpen. He obviously put it all together this year and had his best year ever as a starter so that thought faded away.

    The Tigers have potentially 13 more games left, the way the rotation is set up – Max will probably only get two more starts. I’d much rather roll the dice with Smyly/Porcello starting those two games and have Max for the end of every game. I fully expect the Tigers to use him in that role regardless late in a series.

    • Alexandra - Oct 15, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      As a Tiger fan, I hope they don’t do this (unless it’s must win and “all hands are on deck”). To me, Max is more valuable to the Tigers giving them six to seven inning, than giving them one or two out of the ‘pen.

    • gigab0t - Oct 15, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      That is a terrible outside-the-box idea.

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