October 11th, 2012

Game 5: Tigers at A’s

No big changes on the Tigers side. Bob Melvin makes an interesting shift against Verlander by moving Seth Smith up to the cleanup spot and bumping Brandon Moss to seventh. Neither of them bat well against Verlander at all (Smith 1-for-9, Moss 0-for-6 with 4 strikeouts).

“Just a minor tweak,” Melvin said. “We’ll go with a hot hand, Smitty probably swinging a little bit better, but that doesn’t mean Moss’ spot doesn’t come up in a bigger situation. We still have a lot of confidence in him. It was Smitty last night in the seven hole where that situation comes up. So you never know how it’s going to play out. But you might want to get an at‑bat, one more bat in the game or a guy up earlier in the game, and Smitty is swinging the bat pretty well.”

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Quintin Berry, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH
  6. Andy Dirks, RF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Omar Infante, 2B

P: Justin Verlander

ATHLETICS

  1. Coco Crisp, CF
  2. Stephen Drew, SS
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  4. Seth Smith, DH
  5. Josh Reddick, RF
  6. Josh Donaldson, 3B
  7. Brandon Moss, 1B
  8. Derek Norris, C
  9. Cliff Pennington, 2B

P: Jarrod Parker

So what was that delivery from Jose Valverde?

Statistically, Jose Valverde has had games like this before. There was the game in Cleveland last month, in which he gave up two runs on three hard hits. There was the three-run ninth inning against the Royals in July.

Mechanically, it was a different Valverde than any version we’ve seen in Detroit.

His delivery looked pretty normal, certainly by today’s standards. His mechanics to get into a position to deliver, though, looked unlike anything he had done here. His back, which he usually stretches a little as he gets into position to throw, arched more before he threw his early pitches. At times, he looked like he was undulating before he went into his delivery.

Whether that had any part in his demise Wednesday is up for debate, no doubt. Even if it didn’t, it just looked odd for him. For someone who has had back issues — he missed time in May with a strained lower back — it was something to pay attention.

Valverde, for his part, said he did nothing different.

“Everything’s the same,” Valverde said. “I think it was the same. I threw my fastball, my sinker, my split. You have to give credit to the other team. There’s nothing you can do.”

Avila said, “He’s fine,” when asked about Valverde. It doesn’t necessarily mean he was the same, but he was fine doing it.

Indeed, if Valverde was having serious back trouble, one would figure it would be more obvious. Still, this late in the year, it’s an interesting development.

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