Right after Detroit Tigers Jose Valverde barely shut down a ninth-inning rally by the New York Yankees, the closer couldn't keep his mouth shut and declared the AL division series-- now tied at 1-1-- was "over." Win one game and talk gets cheap... fast.
"It's over already," Valverde told reporters after escaping a Yankees comeback in the pouring rain yesterday. "[Justin] Verlander has it tomorrow. The next day we have a celebration in Detroit. They have a good team, but I think that's it for them."
When told his comments were being recorded by television cameras, Valverde laughed.
"No, no, I am just kidding," he recanted.
Besides producing some prime bulletin board material for the Yankees, Valverde forgot to mention that even if Verlander gets a victory, there is still another game to win in the best-of five series.
Valverde has good reason to be confident. The Tigers return home and put their 24-game winner Verlander on the mound.
The Yankees will counter with their own big man CC Sabathia but, after that, will go after the Tigers with a fragile and inconsistent A.J. Burnett on Tuesday.
Valverde sure picked a weird time to start bragging. He almost single-handedly blew Sunday's 5-3 victory by giving up two runs, putting the tying runs on base and had the dangerous Robinson Cano at the plate as the winning run.
Valverde did everything possible to keep his throwing hand dry in the pouring rain, then got Cano to tap a routine grounder to second in the driving rain for the final out.
Valverde, who was 49-for-49 in save opportunities this season, said he would be ready to pitch Monday night even after using 34 pitches to get the save yesterday. That was one pitch less than his season high.
After the game, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said that with then tying run at first base, he considered walking Cano to take a shot at struggling Alex Rodriguez, but Valverde wanted to go after Cano.
"No, right there, I wanted to end it," Valverde boasted. "I said, I'll win it."