Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Associated Press
NEW YORK - Manager Jim Leyland decided before Game 2 of the American League championship series that closer Jose Valverde would not close the game.
"We will do some work with him," Leyland explained.
Valverde allowed a tying two-run double to Oakland's Seth Smith on Wednesday in Game 4 of the division series as Detroit lost 4-3, then gave up two-run homers in the ninth inning to the Yankees' Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez in Saturday's ALCS opener. Detroit rebounded to win 6-4 in 12 innings.
Left-hander Phil Coke, who had just one save in each of the last two regular seasons, got the final six outs and allowed only one hit in the Tigers' 3-0 win Sunday.
After converting all 49 save chances during the 2011 regular season, Valverde was 35 for 40 this year. Leyland and pitching coach Jeff Jones were examining Valverde's delivery at 3 a.m.
"It is way too slow. The tempo is not good at all," Leyland said. "I don't even know if I am right about it, I probably shouldn't say it, but I will say it anyway, it almost appears to me that it looks like he is kind of waiting for something bad to happen.
"And I don't know if I am accurate on that, I may be totally wrong. But sometimes when you read a player, you can see that he's not quite as confident. ... But I think there is something to this mechanical part of that. I definitely think that."
Valverde later said after Game 2 that he's confident he would return to his closer's role in Game 3 on Tuesday.
"I'll be back," he said. "I have all my confidence, and I have my manager over there, and he has a lot of confidence in me, too."
YANKEES: An MVP-caliber player for much of the summer, Robinson Cano has been a playoff bust.
He is hitless in a postseason record 26 straight at-bats and 2 for 32 overall (.063). His failure to run hard out of the batter's box has become glaring. And he let the ball pop out of his hand in the seventh inning of Game 2, allowing Detroit's first run to score.
• Joe Girardi won't be spending the day off Monday with the team in Detroit. He'll be in East Peoria, Ill., for the funeral of his father, Jerry, who passed away Oct. 6. Several players expressed an interest in going with him, but he asked them not to.
"No, I want our players to rest," he said.
GIANTS: First-base coach Roberto Kelly will miss at least the first two games of the NL championship series because of a concussion after being hit in the back of the head by a foul ball in batting practice.
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said Kelly remains at home recovering.
ALL FOUR remaining postseason teams are managed by former catchers, with Bochy, the Cardinals' Mike Matheny and the Yankees' Girardi having caught in the big leagues, and Detroit's Jim Leyland having been a catcher in the minors.