Valverde goes 40-for-40, sore back and all

If you were expecting a special celebration for Jose Valverde going 40-for-40 on save chances, you were probably a little disappointed. If you were expecting drama, you weren’t.

One out away from an orderly ninth  inning, Chris Getz’s single put the potential tying run on base. One strike away from leaving him at first, Valverde couldn’t get pinch-hitter Brayan Pena to chase fastball outside.

That was partly by design. It wasn’t an intentional walk, but it was essentially the Tigers opting to face Alcides Escobar instead. Manager Jim Leyland had gone to the mound after a first-pitch ball to give his closer a message.

“Pena was 3-for-4 off him,” Leyland said, “So I just told him, ‘Look, whatever you do, don’t give in to him. If you walk him, I don’t care. … If you get behind, whatever you do, don’t throw strikes.'”

Valverde wanted to face him. Once the count went full, however, he didn’t risk it.

“Everybody knows Pena has good power, and I threw a sinker away,” Valverde said. “That’s what I had to do, and face Escobar. Everybody knows Escobar is a good player, but he doesn’t have the power that Pena has.”

Escobar had enough power to loft a fly ball into right field. He did not have enough power to make a threat out of it.

With that, Valverde had his 40th, the longest streak ever by an American League closer to start a season. The only longer streaks both come from the National League — 55 by Eric Gagne in 2003, and 41 from Brad Lidge in 2008.

Stretch streaks into multiple seasons, and Valverde’s 42 consecutive saves put him alone in fourth place on the all-time list. Gagne saved 84 in a row from 2002-04, Tom Gordon had 54 in 1998-99, and Lidge saved 47 straight from the end of 2007 until the start of 2009.

It was a rather subdued celebration from Valverde, who admitted he has been dealing with a sore back.

“My boy here, [Joaquin] Benoit, I made him a promise,” Valverde said. “I said if I do 50, I’ll do something special. … I promise, if I get 50, I’ll have something special for you.”

If he gets there, hopefully, his back should be fine. It’s still a little issue, Valverde said, but nothing serious.

“What I want to do is compete all the time. … I want to go on the mound every day, no matter what happens,” Valverde said. “My back, my neck, my arm, I want to compete and go to play for my teammates.”

14 Comments

That’s really a remarkable achievement when you consider how few closers have done it. He deserves all the credit he can get for this. Some folks aren’t happy unless it’s a 1-2-3 inning, but that’s just not how it works in the closer business. So he has a sore back; that would explain the recent erratic performances. A pitcher has to bend their back or everything goes up and away.
The Gagne mark is pretty amazing.
I really don’t want to see Guillen replace Santiago at secondbase. Ramon has energized the entire team. I think Carlos and Maggs make a nice pair of experienced pinch hitters and spot starters.

26 games left to play. A split gives them an 88-74 record. Is that enough for a division title? A lot depends on whether Chicago or Cleveland get really hot. Minnesota seems to be out of it but they could cause the other three some problems. In order to catch and pass the Tigers at 88-74, the Indians will have to go 22-8 and the White Sox will have to go 21-7. Tough but not impossible, I guess. I don’t know why I do this. It just makes for more anxiety.

Illini: Magic # is 22

oh geez, take care of that back man, we need ya

I would be surprised if we see Carlos much in the field but who knows, he’ll probably shine the first few games and then we’ll see where things stand.

Here are the Central standings minus interleague play:
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Det 68-50 –
Cleve 57-58 9.5
Chi 57-59 10
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Just sayin’

Interleague was not a good time. We seemed to hit everyone of those teams when they were playing some of their best ball and we were playing some of our worst!

Congrats to Valverde. I think when the Tigers played .500 ball the Twins went 20-5. So, Illinois, I know what you are talking about. How many wins did you predict Rich? And what would win the division? Being positive, when we get to the playoffs, anything can happen. One last thought, I know Ramon can struggle sometimes at the plate, but man is he slick in the field.

DB, the sad thing is the Tigers did not even play .500 ball in 2009. They had the exact same record and went 11-15 to finish 86-76 before the one game playoff. That is why they lost the division; the Twins run definitely contributed but the Tigers gave that division away by not playing like a winning team in September.
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I dont see the Indians or Sox having a Twins 2009 run in them but with 12 of the remaining 26 games against them it can certainly get sticky if the Tigers dont take care of business. The other thing in Detroit’s favour is that the Sox and Tribe play each other 8 times. I cant see one team dominating all 8 games. It is always better to have 2 teams chasing you instead of 1. To use a NASCAR analogy, I hope they both wreck in turn 4.
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Honestly, there is no excuse for the Tigers to not close the deal this year. None. All Tiger fans deserve the division title and this should be the year it finally happens.
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Go Tigers.
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— Bob

Thanks Bob, I guess I had a mental block that they could NOT even play .500 ball :) Go Tigers! –Dave

One only need look at ballpark attendance to see that Tiger fans deserve it. Another sparse crowd in Cleveland last night. 16 innings of baseball, with the winning run scoring on a close, but incorrectly called, play. The guy was out by a whisker.
The head to head games are indeed the difference this September, Bob. In 2009, the Twins and Sox had only one 3-game series, which Minnesota swept. This year, only one of those clubs can catch us, not both. Unless we go winless for the month, that is.
Yesterday Jake Peavey did his best Max Scherzer impression, with Luke “The Babe” Hughes going deep again, among others.

hey welcome back rhymes and guillen! NO MORE RABURN AT 2B PLEEEEAAAAASSSSSSEEEEEE

After the Tigers traded the second baseman of the future, Sizemore, wasn’t the full time job handed over to Raburn, except late in the game he would switch to the outfield as a defensive replacement. Ramon should play at 2nd but he wears down if he plays more than 4 games a week. Just kidding. On an upbeat, I really like the Willster.

Valverde’s save record is due in MOST part to his teammates, NOT because he pitches well. Inside pitches, outside pitches, etc. His teammates end up “saving” the game for their closer, because THEY make good plays when a hitter connects with a ball when Valverde actually throws a decent pitch!

Credit should be given, where credit is due. Valverde’s teammates are “saving” the games for their closer.

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