Jose Valverde went into Friday night’s game as the Tigers closer despite the five home runs he’s allowed his last 51⁄3 innings.
Not only that, but manager Jim Leyland reacted to the question of who would close as if it were out of line to ask it.
“We’re going to use Jose Valverde (as the closer) until we decide that Jose Valverde can or can’t do it,” said Leyland. “Or we’ve got somebody else better.”
The Tigers did use Valverde in Friday night’s 4-0 victory over the Twins, though it was a non-save situation.
He pitched a scoreless ninth, though he allowed one walk and hit a batter.
This is the question that was asked of Leyland on the subject before the game:
Just to ascertain if anything has changed, are you using Valverde tonight in a save situation?
“I’m done talking about the closer’s situation,” Leyland replied. “Everyone focuses on the wrong things around here. Everyone forgets we scored only seven runs in Kansas City, and just two runs in two of the games. Nobody said a (bleeping) thing about it.
“We have to improve in close games. We haven’t done very well in close games. We’ve been terrible. But all they do is focus on the closer,” Leyland said. “We got shut out 1-0 in Pittsburgh, but no one ever talks about it. They focus on the wrong thing. I’m tired of talking about this (bleep).”
Leyland said there are multiple reasons why the Tigers lose, meaning he doesn’t think it’s fair for the blame always to be heaped on Valverde, even when he gives up a tying home run on an 0-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the ninth,
As he did in Kansas City.
“He’s blown three saves, a third of the number we’ve blown,” Leyland said.
Actually three of the eight blown saves.