October 3rd, 2011

ALDS Game 3: Tigers vs. Yankees

Remember the lineup the Tigers had out there against CC Sabathia Friday night? Well, the lineup tonight is a little different. Ramon Santiago, 7-for-24 off Sabathia lifetime, starts over Ryan Raburn, 4-for-24. Santiago also bats second.

“To be honest with you, neither Jhonny [Peralta] or Raburn have hit CC at all,” Jim Leyland said in his pregame press conference. “So we felt like, well, we’ll play one of those guys and then play Santiago to try to get a little offense, and as that turns out, it gives us our better defense as well. So Peralta and Santiago were the choices for that reason.”

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (4-for-14, double, triple, HR regular season off Sabathia)
  2. Ramon Santiago, 2B (7-for-24)
  3. Delmon Young, LF (3-for-24, seven K’s, 1 postseason HR)
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (9-for-16, 2 HR, 11 RBIs)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (6-for-25, 2 HR, 3 RBIs)
  6. Magglio Ordonez, RF (19-for-71, 5 doubles, 3 HRs)
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS (1-for-17, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
  8. Alex Avila, C (1-for-7, 3 K’s)
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B (11-for-58, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 15 K’s)

P: Justin Verlander

YANKEES

  1. Derek Jeter, SS (10-for-28 off Verlander)
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF (1-for-6, HR)
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B (4-for-23)
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B (4-for-21, HR, 4 RBIs)
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B (3-for-22, HR, 3 RBIs, 7 K’s)
  6. Nick Swisher, RF (8-for-48)
  7. Jorge Posada, DH (7-for-21, 5 RBIs)
  8. Russell Martin, C (2-for-5)
  9. Brett Gardner, LF (3-for-8)

P: CC Sabathia

When the Big Potato speaks …

So, did Jose Valverde just guarantee the Tigers would win the Division Series?

To the English-speaking reporters, at least, he came close.

“It’ s over,” Valverde told a crowd of reporters after the game. “Tomorrow’s the second game, and when’s the last game? Tuesday? Tuesday’s the celebration. …

Wait, what?

“I’m just kidding, guys,” he said, laughing out loud like somebody pulling a gag.

And that’s how we all took it. Another reporter double-checked the quote with me and another reporter who was there. I listened to it about a dozen times, remembered the laugh I saw, and came to that quote. So did several other writers.

To the Spanish-speaking reporters, supposedly, it was a little different. Here’s what ESPN Deportes’ Enrique Rojas is reporting Valverde told them:

“I think the series will finish in our house. They have a good team, but the series is not (coming) back to New York.”

That report said Valverde did not indicate he was kidding.

So which one is accurate? Well, here’s the problem: It’s hard sometimes to tell when Valverde is joking and when he’s serious.

When Valverde gives the belly laugh, that’s usually a sign he’s joking. That’s what we got when he said it. That’s what I got at the All-Star Game when he suggested he was coming up with a new dance to celebrate a save in the Midsummer Classic if he got. We never got to find out if he was serious about that one.

It’s hard for me to tell what signals he gave the Spanish-speaking reporters when I wasn’t there — or even if I was there.

Valverde has said at least twice this season, as far back as midseason, that he believes the Tigers have the best team in the American League. So he isn’t exactly hurting for confidence in his squad. On the other hand, he was laughing and joking around about how he thought he had that win tonight wrapped up.

As for the series being over, I’ll say this: It does not sound like a guarantee a closer would be making after coming within a hit of watching a four-run lead disappear in the ninth inning.

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