Leyland: No set closer a 'second-guesser's delight'
MINNEAPOLIS -- Whether Jose Valverde's return on a Minor League contract was the Tigers' reaction to their closer by committee setup, manager Jim Leyland had his own reaction Thursday.
Leyland had predicted in Spring Training that having no set closer would be a "second-guesser's delight." He was anticipating the questions about his bullpen usage after Eduardo Escobar's two-run double off Phil Coke Wednesday completed the Twins' comeback for a 3-2 win.
"When you're doing this by committee, there are going to be questions every time," Leyland said. "But you know what this boils down to? ... If you win the game, it was good, and if you didn't win the game, it was bad. Period. Make up your mind. That's the way it is. This is about wins."
He saw his former closer turned Rays All-Star Fernando Rodney give up a lead for Tampa Bay Wednesday night, and he saw Chris Perez do the same for Cleveland. In the Tigers' case, however, it wasn't a full-time closer.
"Sometimes people act surprised, but it's been going on forever in baseball," Leyland said. "Usually the kiss of death is a one-run lead in the ninth inning when you walk the leadoff guy. We've all watched it for a thousand years. A lot of times it comes back to bite you. Sometimes it doesn't. When you duck it, you're real happy and very fortunate. That's pretty simple. That happens.
"One of the best relief pitchers in the league, in my opinion, is [Joaquin] Benoit. Popped the [leadoff hitter] straight up on the first pitch [on Opening Day]. The second day, he happened to walk him. So what? That happens."
Both the Rays and Indians, however, rallied after that and won. In the Tigers' case, it was a walkoff blow