Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/25/12
If you've got aging bananas in the fruit bowl, make banana bread. That just about sums up what manager Jim Leyland did Wednesday night as his Detroit Tigers were getting drubbed, 8-3, at San Francisco in the opening game of the World Series. Leyland tried to give all of his hitters an at-bat in an effort to get them up to speed, and he also went through some of his bullpen to see who might be able to help going forward. He found out one thing: In addition to some rust, it looks as if Jose Valverde's wheels have fallen off. Valverde, who had two consecutive massive failures against Oakland and the New York Yankees, was brought in for the seventh inning Wednesday as kind of a test to see if he'd solved his problems. The answer was negative. The first warning sign was Valverde going to a 3-2 count before striking the first batter he faced, pitcher Tim Lincecum. Angel Pagan ripped a flat 0-2 split-finger for a double, and Marco Scutaro grounded a 94 mph fastball to left for an RBI single. Valverde did hold Pablo Sandoval, who had homered in each of his first three at-bats, to a single, but Buster Posey fought off an inside pitch and looped it to right for an RBI single. Leyland can hardly afford to trust Valverde to close a game, which means he's going to have to trust Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel in that situation from this point on. Phil Coke is also an option, but San Francisco doesn't have as many left-handed bats as the Yankees did. "For whatever reason it just doesn't seem to be coming out right," Leyland said of Valverde. "Although he did have a couple 93s. It's a little bit puzzling, to be honest with you. It just looks like it's just not quite exploding." Benoit struck out the two batters he faced, Rick Porcello pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Al Alburquerque worked two innings, allowing only Sandoval's third home run of the night. The players Leyland used as pinch-hitters were Quintin Berry, Andy Dirks, Danny Worth and Ramon Santiago. Detroit wasn't strong against left-handed pitching this year, which is one reason San Francisco is hauling out lefty Madison Bumgarner, who had two bad starts earlier in the playoffs, for Game 2. "I'm a guy who doesn't believe in momentum in baseball," said Leyland, who will have Doug Fister pitching. "Momentum is your next day's pitcher. "We did not pitch good. You can pretty much sum it up. When you use five pitchers in a game that Justin Verlander starts, that's not good tonic. That usually doesn't work too good. "I've been around long enough to know a lot of things happen in this game." Gerald Laird will probably replace Alex Avila behind the plate, given that he has played a lot against left-handers this season. But other than that, Leyland isn't expected to change the Detroit lineup.
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