Ok. Let’s think about this.
Jim Leyland said in his post-game interview that he and his coaching staff will discuss the closer situation. Yeah, I’m sure they’ll discuss it and I’d love to hear someone say this: “Describe an ideal scenario for us to bring Jose Valverde into a game.” If we’re lucky, the answer is followed by a long, long, crickets-filled pause.
And then another.
I can’t imagine such a scenario. Maybe in a blow out – with the Tigers way behind. I guess.
But wait, the Tigers won this game, people – 6-4 in 12 innings.
Unlike Wednesday’s crushing Game 4 loss to the A’s, they escaped the opponent’s half of the ninth and were able to hang on with some stellar relief from Drew Smyly, whose first career win came at Yankee Stadium and now the same can be said his first post-season win.
That was a long sentence. But after a five-hour game, what else do you expect? This game was long on everything, from terrific pitching by Doug Fister to solid defense to the mystifying Delmon Young.
So, yeah. The Tigers won. But they lost a closer (we think/hope) and now have to think quickly about to do about the ninth inning in Game 2 … and every other game in which they need a closer*. For me the answer is Joaquin Benoit in the seventh, Al Alburquerque in the eighth and Octavio Dotel in the ninth. Or maybe you use Dotel in the eighth and Alburquerque in the ninth.
*Mitch Williams on MLB Network says he thinks Leyland will go with matchups from now on in the ninth inning. Coke and Smyly versus lefties, Dotel and Alburquerque versus righties.
Either way, I don’t see Valverde getting meaningful innings anymore with the Tigers. Like never.
For me this is the bottom line on Game 1: The Tigers toughed out a game that so easily could’ve slipped away in extra innings and would’ve made Game 2 more pressure-packed than it needed to be.
Now they can go into Sunday’s game with even more confidence they can win in New York and make a dream scenario of coming back to Detroit up two games to none a reality.