Tigers closer Jose Valverde flirted with trouble often last year, even though he went 49-for-49 in save chances.
He won’t be perfect in 2012, however.
Valverde was hit hard early and often today and coughed up a two-run lead in the top of the ninth inning. The Tigers are coming to bat with the game tied at 2.
It’s Valverde’s first blown save since Sept. 2, 2010. He converted 51 consecutive regular-season save opportunities.
Dustin Pedroia led off the ninth with a rocket double to deep-right center, and was followed by Adrian Gonzalez’s sharp single to left field. David Ortiz drove in Pedroia with a sacrifice fly to center field for the first out, then Kevin Youkilis struck out.
Gonzalez’s pinch-runner, Darnell McDonald, then stole second base rather easily, and scored on Ryan Sweeney’s smashed triple down the right-field line. That tied the game.
Valverde then got Cody Ross to end the inning, albeit on a scorched liner to shortstop.
The Tigers closer then walked off the field to some boos, as absurd as that is.
Due up for the Tigers in the top of the ninth: Raburn, Peralta, Avila.