09/11/11 6:30 PM ET
Valverde sets Tigers record with 43rd save
By Jason Beck and Chris Vannini / MLB.com
Not only did Valverde's 43rd save of the season clinch a sweep of the Twins, moving the team's magic number to eight (and later seven), it was a new single-season record for the Tigers.
"When you break and record and, knock on wood, you go 43 straight, that's a pretty impressive record to do it like he did," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Valverde was cautious of a potential shaving-cream pie to the face in the postgame TV interview, but stayed clean. However, Miguel Cabrera was able to get Valverde afterward, and several players showered the closer with beer.
"Cabrera is the only one tall enough to get him with the pie," reliever Daniel Schlereth said.
Cleanliness aside, Valverde broke Todd Jones' previous record of 42 saves, which Jones set in 2000. Valverde's career high for single-season saves is 47, which he accomplished with the D-backs in 2007. When asked if he thought this might be his best season, Valverde didn't seem to care; he was just happy that his saves result in wins.
"It's good for me, my family and all my friends," Valverde said. "But what I want is to compete all the time, be in the field, save the game for my team to go to the postseason. That's what I want. It's good, but I want to go to the World Series."
This season, Valverde has been a perfect 43-for-43. They haven't all been easy -- he allowed one run to score and the tying run to reach second base on Sunday -- but Valverde is one of the biggest reasons the Tigers are inching closer and closer to a division title and a shot at the World Series.
Tigers' Martinez hits into four double plays
DETROIT -- In any other situation, Victor Martinez might have had enough frustration to slam his bat Sunday. The way the Tigers are going, even four double plays aren't going to wipe the smile off his face. They did, however, put him into record territory.
When Martinez hit his eighth-inning liner toward the first-base line, he was sure it would get through for a hit. When Twins rookie first baseman Chris Parmelee made a diving catch and tagged first, Martinez was sure it wasn't his day.
The designated hitter made eight outs in four at-bats.
"That's how baseball is," Martinez said. "I've been getting a lot of hits that I hit near my hands, and they've found a way to fall down. That's the way it is."
Martinez's double plays went around the horn. He grounded to second with two on in the first inning, to third in the third inning and to shortstop two innings later after an intentional walk to Miguel Cabrera. He did not, however, make a record.
Because Parmelee caught Martinez's eighth-inning ball on a line, it didn't qualify as a grounded into double play.
Still, he's the first big leaguer to hit into four double plays of any sort since Joe Torre did it in 1975. Former Tigers player Goose Goslin also did it on April 28, 1934.
The first of Martinez's double plays drove in a run in a two-run opening inning that accounted for all of Detroit's scoring. The last of his double plays left him throwing his batting gloves into the dugout while smiling.
"He came off the bag," Martinez said of Parmelee, "and I thought it was down the line. And all of a sudden he dove, and I was like, 'Oh well.'"
Bruised Avila gets well-deserved day off
DETROIT -- After all the bumps and bruises Alex Avila has taken behind the plate this year, he still gets new ones every once in a while. The giant bruise on his chest fit the category.
"I got hit right in the chest. I've never been hit there before," Avila said. "There's a first for everything."
That one came from a foul tip late in Saturday's walk-off win over the Twins. It hit off his chest protector and still did some damage. That was completely separate from the foul tip off his mask early in the game that left him needing a few seconds to recover.
"Taking it off the face is pretty normal," Avila said. "Getting it off the chest, that one hurt a little bit. You normally don't get it off the chest, and it's kind of shocking."
He had Sunday to recover, thanks to his first game out of the lineup since Aug. 25. Manager Jim Leyland had already planned on that being his day off for almost a week, knowing Omir Santos would be up with rosters expanded and the season over at Triple-A Toledo. Saturday's damage simply made it more timely.
Only Arizona's Miguel Montero and Florida's John Buck entered Sunday with more starts than Avila among Major League catchers, and the margin is only by a game (118-117). Nobody keeps track of foul tips and balls hit off a catcher, but Leyland has his own views on that level for his young catcher.
"I've never seen anybody get hit like that, like he does," Leyland said. "He needs a blow for sure. He's getting that today."
Leyland has theories on why that may be.
"I think some of it has to do with the stuff," Leyland said. "Sometimes when a guy's throwing 95-96 [mph] like [Max] Scherzer was [Saturday], sometimes they foul off those pitches and they go straight back and whack him. I think it's got something to do with that."
Jackson close to joining Grandy in elite group
DETROIT -- Austin Jackson has managed to forge his own identity with the Tigers after replacing Curtis Granderson atop Detroit's batting order. In at least one feat, though, he's about to give Granderson some company.
Jackson's next home run this season would put him into double digits, which he already has in doubles, triples and stolen bases. He would become the 18th Tigers player to pull off the quadruple-double, and the first since Granderson did it in 2007 and '08.
Granderson's first quadruple-double came in his second full Major League season. That was the year he became just the fourth Major Leaguer ever with 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 homers and 20 stolen bases. Likewise, this is Jackson's second season in the big leagues.
The Tigers have long forecast Jackson to develop power in his swing as he matures as a hitter, but they've been careful not to push him to do so.
Leyland keeping tabs on reliever Alburquerque
DETROIT -- Though Al Alburquerque finished out the ninth inning Saturday following a visit from head athletic trainer Kevin Rand, manager Jim Leyland was still slightly concerned about the soreness around Alburquerque's right hip area. He planned to keep tabs on it, but unless it grows into a bigger issue, it isn't going to keep the pitcher out of action.
Leyland has been looking for ways to ease Alburquerque into action after he missed about three weeks with a concussion. He's likely to continue easing him in for a while.
Alburquerque said Sunday morning he's feeling good, but the injury isn't a concern on his part.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.