Jose Valverde Blows 9th-Inning Lead as Detroit Tigers Lose Late, Fail to Sweep Cleveland Indians

Jose Valverde

lakelandlocal, Flickr

The needed a sweep in the worst way to keep pace in the Central Division. The Cleveland Indians didn’t have anything to lose, and showed it Sunday afternoon. Riding a free wheeling two run ninth inning, the Indians rallied off of , sending the Tigers to a crippling loss.

Going for that all important sweep, the Tigers struck first and loaded the bases in the first inning with two hits and a walk. chopped an infield single to Ubaldo Jimenez, which scored two runs via Casey Kotchman error. tiptoed around danger in the first inning, walking the bases loaded, but working out of trouble fast. doubled in the third, and scored on ’s single, making it 3-0. Porcello didn’t find trouble until the fourth, when a flair by Shin Soo Choo cut the lead to 3-2. That inning broke Porcello, as he faltered in the fifth thanks to some horrible umpiring. Two straight close plays at first base aided two more Cleveland runs, and prevented two Detroit double plays as the Indians took the lead.The Indians scored again in the sixth, as Brian Knight called Carlos Santana safe on a high throw at first to the dismay of . Cleveland led 5-3 as the later innings began.

The Indians put Joe Smith in to pitch the seventh despite the fact Detroit’s offense had done nothing against Jimenez prior to their early explosion. The Tigers greeted him with two singles sandwiched around two outs, and Cabrera blasted off with a three run shot, giving the Tigers a 6-5 lead back. Drew Smyly pitched the seventh, and combined for a clean eighth. The Tigers didn’t add any more runs when they had the chance in the top of the eighth inning, and that made for a horrible ninth with Jose Valverde. He allowed a leadoff double, a game tying triple and the walkoff hit by Lonnie Chisenhall. Considering the circumstances, it was the most heartbreaking loss of the season.

Big Cat: Miguel Cabrera. The player that should be the American League favorite for MVP played another dandy game today. He had a big hit late which temporarily bolstered Detroit into the lead, in addition to a double and a single. If nothing else, Cabrera padded his own statistics more with a great performance. He’s looking the part of a most valuable player down the stretch, especially on days like today when his teammates do little to help him out.

Stray Kitty: First base umpire Brian Knight and Jose Valverde. This category, normally reserved for an underperforming player, goes to an underperforming umpire today as well. Knight had three poor calls at first base each of which could be argued should have gone Detroit’s way. That would have prevented runs from scoring. Valverde was pathetic in the ninth inning, and wasn’t even effective. He’s been erratic at the least opportune times this year, and adds this latest performance to the pile.

Best Play Of The Game: Cabrera’s late home run. The three run blast temporarily put the Tigers ahead despite everything that had gone wrong, and looked to be the game winning shot capable of cementing Cabrera’s status as a lead dog for MVP. Though he might still win the award, it would be nice if his hard work would pay off with a playoff birth.

Worst Play Of The Game: Valverde’s terrible ninth. Today, Valverde wasn’t even close, as he failed to locate pitches, get outs and eventually, close the game. As losses go, this one hurts, considering the fact Detroit plays Chicago tomorrow in a makeup game. The Tigers need their closer to be on the money late in the season, and this performance was very disheartening.

Central Focus: The White Sox cruised to a big victory over the hopeless Minnesota Twins, meaning the Tigers fall to two games back of Chicago in the standings. Tomorrow will be another important day for Detroit.

On Deck: The Tigers head to Chicago for an important makeup game tomorrow afternoon. Carlos Quintana faces off against Doug Fister, as the Tigers attempt to slice Chicago’s lead to one again.

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