Following Sunday’s game two victory over the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde was extremely confident. Valverde was feeling so good about the Tigers chances over the rest of the ALDS that he told reporters “It’s over”.
Valverde and the Tigers closed out what became an increasingly tight 5-3 victory over the Yankees yesterday to pull even in their first round playoff series.
With the series heading back to Detroit, Valverde is expecting a “Tuesday celebration”, suggesting a Tigers 3-1 series victory. Valverde later said that he was “just kidding”, but does feel very confident in his team’s chances.
Things became close during game two thanks in large part to Valverde himself. Detroit entered the 9th with a 5-1 lead. In the previous frame, the Tigers had Valverde up and warming for what appeared to be a save situation. Detroit went on to add an insurance run but decided to stick with its closer.
While an extra run is certainly useful anytime you are playing as high-powered an offense as the Yankees, the support caused the game to turn into a non-save situation.
In such instances, Valverde’s ERA is much higher than when he is trying to complete a save. Valverde was 49 of 49 in the saves department in 2011 with a season ERA of 2.24.
It was a totally different story during non-save situations. On the year, Valverde surrendered a total of 21 runs. 18 of those came during non-save situations.
It was more of the same for Valverde yesterday, as he surrendered two runs on a pair of hits and walks before finally closing things out in the 9th.
With runners on first and second, game one hero Robinson Cano stepped to the plate. With the rain beating down, Valverde was able to get ahead of Cano and ultimately induced a ground ball to end the game.
The Tigers will look for Justin Verlander, who Valverde tabs as the “best guy going”, to carry their momentum into tonight’s game three contest in Detroit. The Yankees will counter with an ace of their own, C.C. Sabathia.
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