Sensing the approaching rash of criticism, Jim Leyland tried deflecting the attention after Jose Valverde blew his first save in his Detroit Tigers’ renaissance.

“We didn’t take advantage of all the runners we had on base,” Leyland said.

Nice try, Skip.

Even the most scorching bats will cool. Miguel Cabrera will look mortal, weakly popping up with the bases loaded and only one out. That’s when it’s the bullpen’s job to step forward and slam the door. It performed its role admirably for two innings until every fan’s worst nightmare rematerialized — the Papa Grande leadoff walk in the ninth inning.

“That’s usually the kiss of death,” Leyland said in between nibbles of his postgame entrée. “He’s done that before and we’ve gotten out of it. And we still had our chances with two out. But usually walking that first guy in a one-run game is pretty tough.”

Valverde blew it Sunday afternoon, in classic Valverde contradictory closer fashion.

The leadoff walk to Cleveland pinch-hitter Michael Bourn was the equivalent of giving up a double because of Valverde’s frustrating penchant for not holding runners at first base. Valverde never once looked at Bourn. And on the second pitch, Bourn easily stole second.

Valverde struck out two, but also walked two. He threw 29 pitches — 14 of them were balls. All of them were fastballs, not one split-fingered fastball. And through all the assorted ugliness, there yet remained the chance to record the save until Michael Brantley knocked one of those fastballs into leftfield for the game-tying run.