Papa, what a grandé script.

Back as the Tigers closer, reclaiming the job that looked last fall like it would never be his again, Jose Valverde is 1-for-1.

One opportunity, one save.

In his 119th save situation as a Tiger, but the first this season because he's just been signed to close out their games again, Valverde retired the side in order in the ninth on Wednesday night to preserve a 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals at the fridge known as Comerica Park.

"This is the Papa Grandé everyone was looking for," Valverde said after the game. "I feel I can do my job like a No. 1 closer."

Game time temperature was 41. The highest all night was 42. When the final pitch was thrown, the temperature was 39.

But the fans warmed to Valverde all the same. When the bullpen gate opened after the bottom of the eighth, fans stood in anticipation of him entering the game.

Those along the third-base line had to lean forward to see who it was. When the fans saw it was Valverde coming in to pitch, they cheered.

Most of them, anyway.

"This game has emotional rides," manager Jim Leyland said, "and it's pretty much, what have you done for me lately. We all understand that.

"I expected him to get an ovation. But I was glad to see it."

The stands at Comerica weren't full, far from it. The fans who had stayed were shivering.

For that matter, both teams were cold. But the scene was special.

"It was like I was back in my house," Valverde said.

Indeed, Papa Grandé was back, complete with the trademark slap of his cap on his leg as he left the bullpen. Plus the hop he takes as his first step. You know the routine.

"You don't know what to expect when Papa is coming into a game," Joaquin Benoit said.

"The best thing is he gets the job done."

Along with being glad to see his friend, Benoit welcomed the return of defined bullpen roles.

"It's easier for everybody," he said.

Valverde's first pitch was a ball. Groans from the crowd.

His second pitch was a strike. Loud cheers.

Hitting .342 at the time, Alex Gordon was the first batter Valverde faced. When the count went to full on Gordon, the crowd seemed to blame plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth for calling a ball more than it did Valverde for throwing one.

It wasn't a jam, though. Valverde retired Gordon on a fly ball to left for the first out.