Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 11/18/14
Michigan-news-february
Less than two weeks ago, Jose Valverde mangled a brilliant Max Scherzer start in Baltimore, allowing the Orioles to storm back for a walk-off win. Papa Grande did it again Wednesday, blowing a 2-0 lead — and Justin Verlander win — in the bottom of the ninth as Lorenzo Cain took him deep to left field for a two-run homer. The host Royals then chalked up the winner in the bottom of the 10th, off Phil Coke. That’s the sixth walk-off win against the Tigers this year, and it dropped the team’s bullpen record to 4-12 — worst in the bigs. Wednesday’s grades: The Lineup 1. Avisail Garcia: C. Garcia started Detroit off on the right foot, doubling to open the game and then scoring on a Prince Fielder single. He went 0-for-4 with 2 Ks after that, leaving guys in scoring position twice. 2. Torii Hunter: C-minus. Hunter’s down under .300 now after an 0-for-3 day. He did sacrifice bunt in the first (though it’s hard to say why) and took a HBP later. 3. Miguel Cabrera: B-minus. A tough day for Cabrera, who finished 0-for-3 with two walks — David Lough robbed him of an RBI double in the third. Cabrera also booted one in the ninth, after Valverde’s collapse. 4. Prince Fielder: B. Fielder had a pair of hits, including an RBI single in the first inning. He also drew a walk and made an error of his own. 5. Victor Martinez: F. Martinez finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, and one of those unproductive at-bats was a first-inning double play to kill a threat. He later K’d right after Cabrera and Fielder walked to open the eighth. 6. Jhonny Peralta: D-plus. Lots of ugly grades from an underwhelming day at the plate. Peralta was 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. 7. Matt Tuiasosopo: B. It would have been nice to see Tuiasosopo bat with two on and two out in the eighth, after he delivered an extra-base hit earlier in the game. Jim Leyland opted to replace him with Don Kelly in the seventh, though, for defensive purposes. 8. Brayan Pena: A-minus. Expect to keep seeing more of Pena, so long as he’s hitting. Pena delivered a 2-for-4 day with an RBI on a double to deep center. 9. Ramon Santiago: B. Hard to complain about anything here. Santiago turned in a 1-for-2 with a pair of sacrifices. The Bench 1. Don Kelly: D. The only Tigers reserve used on Wednesday, Kelly stranded two runners in the eighth in his only at-bat. The Pitchers 1. Justin Verlander: A. Verlander would have landed an A-plus had his pitch count not elevated in the second through fourth innings, forcing him to give way to the bullpen after seventh. He was flat out brilliant, however, in setting the Tigers up for a win. 2. Drew Smyly: C. Smyly pitched a scoreless eighth, but the leadoff single he allowed to Eric Hosmer in the ninth set the stage for Valverde’s latest blown save. 3. Jose Valverde: F. Can we go lower than F? No? Oh well. Valverde blew his third save by inexplicably hanging one on 0-2 with two outs. In his six appearances since May 31, Valverde has given up five homers in 5.1 innings. 4. Phil Coke: D-minus. Coke got the Tigers out of the ninth, only to lose it in the 10th. Miguel Tejada led off that inning with a hit — par for the course when Coke faces righties. Coke then blew his chance to wiggle out of trouble by allowing a game-winning hit to Hosmer.
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