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American League Championship Series

Detroit's Jose Valverde confident he will be closer in Game 3

The Tigers pitcher, who gave up four ninth-inning runs to blow a lead in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, was benched for Sunday's Game 2.

October 15, 2012|By Paul Sullivan

NEW YORK — Detroit closer Jose Valverde was confident he would return to his closer's role in Game 3 on Tuesday, after being benched by Manager Jim Leyland on Sunday to work on his mechanics.

"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."

Valverde, who gave up four ninth-inning runs to blow a lead in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, threw 25 pitches in the bullpen Sunday afternoon, working on slowing down his delivery. Meanwhile, Leyland gave Phil Coke a chance to be the closer for the day, and watched him throw two scoreless innings for the save.

"Now please don't write that Phil Coke is the new closer, because we are going to pick and choose what we do," Leyland said. "But today it worked out, and we're very fortunate the way the lineup played out."

Valverde said the closer controversy "is over" and he has already turned the page.

"If you have something bad, you take it and throw it in the garbage, and that's it," he said. "I've done this a long time. If I had taken all this bad stuff home, I'd be in the house right now. This is not the first time I've had a blown save."

Replacing a legend

After Derek Jeter's broken ankle forced him out of the rest of the postseason, former Chicago White Sox infielder Jayson Nix now has some big shoes to fill as Jeter's replacement at shortstop. He said he's ready to show he can play.

"I've been through a lot in my career and fought to establish myself," he said.

Nix signed a minor league deal with New York and was called up during the season. Even with limited playing time, he called it "one of the most fun years" he's had in the big leagues.

"To be able to come here and fill a role for this team and be around this group of guys, it's been very special," he said.

Extra innings

Robinson Cano's hitless streak is now at 26 at-bats, the longest postseason stretch of hitless at-bats in Yankees postseason history. The major league postseason record is 42 hitless at-bats by Seattle's Dan Wilson… Jeter's injury ended his major league record streak of playing in 158 straight postseason games. Former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams ranks second on the list with 120 straight…. In 14 trips to the championship series, the Yankees have fallen behind 0-2 only once, in 1980 against the Kansas City Royals. They lost, 3-0, in a best-of-five series.

psullivan@tribune.com

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