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Rockies 12, Tigers 4: Rockies score 8 runs in 10th, Jose Valverde implodes in impressive fashion

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Final - 6.15.2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Colorado Rockies 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 8 12 16 0
Detroit Tigers 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 9 1
WP: Matt Belisle (3 - 2)
LP: Jose Valverde (3 - 2)

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What had been a tight 4-4 game was broken wide open with an 8 run 10th inning by the Colorado Rockies, beating the Detroit Tigers 12-4. The Rockies' Matt Belisle pitched 2 innings of scoreless relief to get the win, raising his record to 3-2. Jose Valverde took the loss, falling to 3-2 on the season. Chris Nelson led the Rockies with a home run, 2 hits and 3 RBI. Michael Cuddyer and Eric Young also chipped in with homers. Prince Fielder and Bryan Halloday had 2 hits apiece for the Tigers.

Before tonight's game, Jim Leyland told the assembled media, "You take what you can get from the fifth guy." That guy was starter Casey Crosby, who gave just fine until the 3rd and 4th innings, when the Rockies got to him.

The Rockies took a 2-0 lead in the 3rd thanks to extra base RBI hits from Nelson and Dexter Fowler.

The Tigers took the lead right back in the bottom of the inning, 3-2. Austin Jackson doubled in Halloday, Miguel Cabrera did the same to score Jackson, and Fielder's single plated a sliding Cabrera. Cabrera looked dead to rights, but the big man had everything under control...though the throw being slightly off line helped.

The ping-pong style of baseball continued, with the lead changing for the 3rd consecutive at bat. Nelson, who was hitting .240 coming into tonight and gunning for Tiger Killer status, took Crosby deep. His big fly just cleared the right field wall for a 2 run home run and 4-3 Rockies lead. It was death by number 9 hitter.

The Tigers tied the game in the bottom of the 6th on a Brennan Boesch ground out. The big play off the inning was an Adam Ottavino wild pitch, which moved runners into scoring position in the first place. The Rockies proceeded to pitch around Cabrera and Fielder, loading the bases in order to bring up Delmon Young. Young battled, fouling off 4 consecutive 2 strike pitches from Rex Brothers...only to strike out on a breaking ball in the dirt. Oh, Delmon, Delmon, Delmon.

From the 7th inning on, the game turned into a battle of relief pitching. The Jims (no relation to the Bobs), Leyland and Tracy, went deep into their respective bullpens. Leyland started the 10th inning with Jose Valverde in the much reviled non-save situation.

After Cuddyer lead off with a single, Young laid down a sacrifice bunt. Valverde fielded the ball just fine...but decided to reenact the the 2006 World Series from the Tigers' POV. He lollipopped a throw over the head of Fielder, who managed to keep his foot on the bag...but couldn't hold on to the throw, Cuddyer advancing all the way to 3rd.

The Tigers did the only thing they could, walking the bases full to set up a force at any base. The strategy looked like it might pay off, as Jordan Pacheco grounded into a 6-3 fielder's choice. As they like to say on Twitter, #FalseHope! Jhonny Peralta broke in a couple of steps on Wilin Rosario's high hopper, which gave just enough space for the ball to bounce over a leaping Peralta for a 2 RBI single and 6-4 lead. Could Peralta have made the play at home if he was in position to field the ground ball? I doubt it, but I would have liked to see him have an opportunity to try.

From here on out, the inning didn't improve. At all. It. Got. Ugly.

Valverde walked the bases loaded, then allowed a sacrifice fly, single and 2 more runs. He was finally, mercifully pulled as the boos rained down from the Comerica stands. The Big Potato had been stuffed, mashed and boiled by the Rockies.

Luis Marte entered the game...and all you could do was laugh as Cuddyer and Young blasted long home runs to make an awful inning completely ridiculous. Game not only over, but the Rockies had stuck a shiv in the Tigers' back, twisted, and broke off the handle.

The combined 10th inning totals for Valverde and Marte: 5 H, 8 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 2 HR, 1 E.

So what can you say? Wave the white flag. Run for cover. Hide. All would have been better options than Velverde and Marte were for the Tigers tonight. But why bother overreacting? No one could have predicted such an implosion.

Valverde has been better than fine since returning from his back injury, allowing only 2 ER in 11 appearances. This was the sort of brutal, out of control inning you'll see once a season from your closer. There really wasn't much much Leyland could do. The bullpen was dried up. Would you have preferred seeing Luke Putkonen or Marte open the10th instead of Valverde?

But let's spread the blame, as it's only fair. The Tigers had their chances to win well before the God awful 10th. They left the bases loaded in the 6th and the 3-4-5-6 meat of the order went down meekly in the 9th. For the want of a late game big hit, the Tigers were, as Moe Howard would say, murderized by the Rockies in the 10th.

Worse, the Tigers' offense could do little with Rockies' starting pitcher Jeff Francis, his career NL 4.83 ERA, 2012 ERA of 21.60 and 3.30 WHIP. As I said, there's plenty of blame to go around tonight.

I'm off to have a drink and forget the 10th inning ever happened.

Bullets:

  • Crosby only lasted into the 4th, tossing 3 2/3 innings, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits. Crosby would have been fine, if he could only have gotten Nelson out.
  • Nelson vs. Crosby was a mismatch in the order of the first Rocky Balboa - Clubber Lang fight: Triple, home run, 2 runs, 3 RBI.
  • Jason Giambi was the Rockies' one man rally killer. He did the near impossible, grounding into double plays on 3 consecutive at bats in 2nd, 3rd and 5th. All were of the odd ball variety, 3-5-1, 3-2-3 and 4-5-3. Most impressive was the Tigers' shift, with Cabrera stationed at short. The largest shortstop in baseball turned 2 of the double plays.
  • The Rockies tried the same shift on Fielder in the 5th, and showed Giambi exactly how one beats it. With an inside out swing, Fielder went the opposite way, dribbling a ground ball where the 3rd baseman would have been. With the ball in short left field, Fielder then laughed heartily at the Rockies' nonsensical strategy by legging out a double.
  • With the loss, the Tigers are 13-17 at home in 2012. What home field advantage?
  • The Tigers have to make a roster move quickly with Doug Fister being activated tomorrow. Who's your soon to be Toledo Mud Hen, Casey Crosby or Matt Young? Or do you have a sleeper pick?

3 ROARS:

Duane Below: Entered the for Crosby with the game 4-3. Left the game 1 2/3 innings later with the game still 4-3. Anyone thinking Below would be a better fit in the rotation than the man he replaced?

Bryan Halloday: The rookie catcher had the best game of his short big league career with 2 hits and 2 runs scored.

Brayan Villarreal: Was excellent as well with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless, 2 K relief. The Tigers' relief pitching from Below, Villarreal and Phil Coke was great tonight. We'll get ot the rest of the bullpen shortly in the hisses.

3 HISSES:

Delmon Young: 1-5, strike out with the bases loaded, total of 5 runners left on base.

Casey Crosby: Allowing the number 9 hitter of a National League team to school you is not how you make a case to remain in the big leagues.

Jose Valverde: When you dance with the devil in the pale moonlight, you get burned. Same goes for allowing base runners in extra innings. Valverde was scalded.

BONUS HISS:

Luis Marte: His pitching made Comerica National Park look more like a small inner city sandlot. If Jackson doesn't run down Young's fly to deep right center, we may still be waiting for that miserable inning to end.

GAME 63 PLAYER OF THE GAME

Austin Jackson was not to be denied, his hot bat carried him to a victory over Justin Verlander, 59% to 32%.