Found October 14, 2012 on
Jim Leyland was thinking about it. That much, we knew.
The evidence was beyond the Yankee Stadium wall, in left-center field, where Octavio Dotel warmed up in the visiting bullpen. He stirred one batter into the ninth inning Saturday night, after Russell Martin's single started the ninth inning from hell for the Detroit Tigers.
Jose Valverde is the Tigers' closer. He has been since 2010. But it spoke to the depths of his recent struggles that Leyland had another reliever warm up behind him that quickly - even as Detroit held a 4-0 lead.
Leyland was hedging. Turns out, he should have acted even more boldly.
By now, you know what happened next: Ichiro Suzuki slammed a home run off Valverde to make it 4-2. Three batters later, Raul Ibañez, in the latest chapter of his Reggie-esque October, sent a game-tying souvenir into the right-field seats on a Valverde splitter that didn't split.
It was only then that Leyland pulled Valverde. Dotel trotted in from the bullpen and struck out Eric Chavez - on three pitches - to send Game 1 of the American League Championship Series into extra innings. No thanks to their closer, the Tigers ended up winning, 6-4, in 12 innings.
In retrospect, Leyland should have pulled Valverde after the Ichiro homer. At that point in the inning - three batters in - it was apparent that Valverde didn't trust his splitter and couldn't locate his fastball.
Another group of second guessers will say -- entirely reasonably -Valverde shouldn't have been in the game at all. The A's torched him for a .444 batting average - and one walk-off loss - in the AL Division Series. This wasn't a save situation, so Leyland could have used Dotel or Rick Porcello to begin the inning without showing a lack of confidence in Valverde. In Leyland's defense, he brought Valverde into 23 games this season with the margin four runs or greater. So, it wasn't a surprise that he brought Valverde into the game in a non-save situation Saturday night.
Either way, Leyland must now look across the diamond and borrow a page from Joe Girardi's binder: If the Yankees manager is willing to bench (and pinch-hit for) one-time franchise player Alex Rodriguez, then Leyland should be emboldened to demote an ineffective closer who's going to be a free agent in a few weeks.
The Tigers have Dotel for this very reason. Dotel won a World Series ring with the St. Louis Cardinals last year. He's closed before. He supplied 1-1/3 scoreless innings, under intense pressure, after relieving Valverde Saturday night.
Dotel, who has not permitted a run in this postseason, should become the Tigers' closer effective immediately. And now Leyland must hope that he gets another chance to protect a ninth-inning lead in this series.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
THE EYES HAVE IT
As is plainly evident above, Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer has Heterochromia iridum, a condition that in the most basic of layman’s terms causes a person’s eyes to be two different colors. Having said condition, the unique set of goggles Scherzer strapped to his head to protect his multi-colored eyes during Detroit’s celebration following the team [...]
Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has something to think about before Sunday's second game of the American League Championship Series -- whether to change closers for the 169th game of the year. After closer Jose Valverde was hammered for a second straight postseason game, Leyland hinted that a shift might be imminent. "We're going to discuss this as a staff,"...
A blown call on a tag play at second base cost the Yankees two runs and possibly Game 2 against the Tigers in the ALCS. See video of the terrible call here.
Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland announced Sunday afternoon he will not use closer Jose Valverde in that role in, at least temporarily. Leyland did not have a timetable for Valverde to return as closer, but said the pitcher still has the long-term job. Valverde has a 27.00 ERA in 2 1/3 innings of relief during three postseason appearances. On Saturday night, he allowed four...
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Detroit Tigers will take on the New York Yankees in a playoff series. This time however, the stakes will be elevated. In 2006 and 2011 the Tigers eliminated the Yankees in the ALDS series. In 2012, these two teams will square off in the ALCS for the right to represent the American League in the World Series.The schedule looks like this:Game...
NEW YORK (AP) -- Jose Valverde didn't finish Game 2 of the AL championship series for the Detroit Tigers but retains his closer's role for now.
"I guess that sounds like I am mud watching, but I am really not," manager Jim Leyland said. "We will do some work with him."
Valverde allowed a tying two-run double to Oakland's Seth Smith on Wednesday in...
As most of the baseball world speculates why the New York Yankees are failing on a stage where they're accustomed to succeeding, perhaps it's time for the experts take a look at what the Detroit Tigers are doing right.
The Tigers lead the American League Championship Series two games to none after Sunday's 3-0 Game 2 victory because their starting pitching has been better...
Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is loyal to his players, perhaps to a fault.
If the Tigers are going to beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS, that will have to change.
Leyland has stuck with struggling players like Brandon Inge, Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn before admitting recently that he stuck with Raburn too long.
Inge didn't stick with the Tigers past April, finding...
Anibal Sanchez gave a performance against New York that the Detroit Tigers have come to expect from Justin Verlander.
The Tigers' ace is next in line for a chance to toy with the Yankees' suddenly dreadful offense.
Sanchez shut down a Yankees lineup minus the injured Derek Jeter, Detroit scored twice after a missed call by an ump and won without any extra-inning drama,...
The Detroit Tigers have one day to savor their triumph in Oakland before a whirlwind start to the AL championship series.
The Tigers are still waiting to find out their next opponent. The New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles play the decisive game of their division series Friday, and the ALCS starts Saturday.
Further complicating matters is the fact that the Tigers need two contingency...
Tonight was the start of the American League Championship Series. The New York Yankees were taking on the Detroit Tigers for Game 1 of a possible seven game series.
Doug Fister started for the Tigers, he went 6.1 innings and gave up six hits. Andy Pettitte was the starter for the Yankees, he went 6.2 innings giving up seven hits and two earned runs.Prince Fielder had an RBI single...
The video (below) is a major lesson to all who are attending this year's Championship Series MLB games that YOU SHOULDN'T TALK ABOUT PEOPLE IN THE STANDS.According to a Youtube uploader, the family of Prince Fielder chewed out a fan who began picking at Fielder's son in the stand during Game 5 of the Oakland Athletics match-up against the Detroit Tigers, a series...
Here we go again.
For the third time in seven years, the Tigers will face the New York Yankees in the postseason. Detroit won the first two matchups they are the only major-league franchise to have beaten New York twice in the playoffs without losing but those were five-game series in 2006 and 2011. This will be the first time the teams have played in a seven-game series.
The Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees 6-4 in game one of the ALCS, tonight at Yankee Stadium from the Bronx, NY.
Tigers lead series over Yankees 1-0.
W - Drew Smyly (1-0), L - David Phelps (0-1)
Andy Pettitte pitched a quality game by going 6.2 innings pitched, allowed 7 hits, gave up 2 runs, walked 3 and struck out 5 batters.
Derek Lowe gave up a two-run...
The Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees 3-0 in game two of the ALCS, last night at Yankee Stadium from the Bronx, NY.
Tigers lead series over Yankees 2-0.
W - Anibal Sanchez (1-0), L - Hiroki Kuroda (0-1), S - Phil Coke (1).
Hiroki Kuroda pitched a great game, even thought he had zero run support. He pitched 7.2 innings, allowed 5 hits, gave up 3 earn runs and...