BALITMORE — It is not what Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland wanted and for Tigers relief pitcher Jose Valverde, who could not run off of the field fast enough or quick enough.
The Tigers according to Leyland after the game, “we let one slip away, we did not close it out.”
The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Tigers 7-5, when Chris Dickenson found a Valverde fastball floating across the plate and sent it the other way over the right center field fence for a three run home run and the win.
Tigers’ starting pitcher Max Scherzer struggled early in the beginning with his control but after a short meeting with pitching coach Jeff Jones and after that brief conversation, Scherzer found his groove.
The wise words from Jones helped Scherzer, his fastball suddenly found the edges of the plate and the secondary pitches also found the holes in the Baltimore batter’s bats.
After eight innings of work, Leyland shook Scherzer’s hand for a job well done, Scherzer struck out 10 and sat down the final16 Orioles batters he faced before watching his victory disappear from his grasp like water down a drain.
Valverde made his appearance on the mound in Camden Yards in the ninth inning and the first batter for the Orioles, Nick Markakis stepped up against Valverde and hit his seventh home run of the season that just nicked the glove of Tigers’ right fielder Avisail Garcia.
The next batter for the Orioles, center fielder Adam Jones hit a single into the hole that Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta made the catch but his momentum carried him toward the outfield and Jones made it to first.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis worked Valverde to a full count and then saw a fastball that Davis hit into right center field sending Jones to third base.
Jones came out of the dugout and walked out to the mound to talk to his pitcher.
Valverde face Baltimore’s catcher Matt Wieters and got him to pop up to Prince Fielder for the first out of the ninth inning.
Leyland stood at the top step of the dugout and directed the Tigers defense.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy pop up to Peralta for the second out and Leyland took a deep breath but stayed on top of the dugout stop and then he watch the fly ball off of the bat of Dickerson’s bat and Valverde’s head turn around watching the flight of ball.
It was the first walk off home run given up by Valverde since the 2006 season but it is not the first blown save opportunity by Valverde.
After the game Valverde sat in front of his locker and faced the questions.
“Tomorrow is a new day,” Valverde said.
The Tigers’ bats arrived in the first inning when Miguel Cabrera hit his 16th home run of the season-a two run shot over the left field fence but the Orioles took the lead in the fourth inning when Jones hit a two run home run off of Scherzer.
The Tigers in the fifth inning scored and took the lead when Victor Martinez ground into a force out to second baseman Ryan Flaherty to Hardy and Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks crossed the plate and Cabrera moved up to third base but Peralta struck out ending the inning.
It will be a long and sleepless night in Baltimore for Leyland and if he watches another performance like tonight by Valverde it could turn out to be a nightmare of a season for Detroit Tiger baseball fans.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.