In bizarre fashion, Jose Valverde’s meltdown pays off for Tigers

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For all of the drama, Detroit pulled out Saturday’s Game 1 by a 6-4 score in 12 innings. And thanks to Jose Valverde’s four-run ninth inning, the Tigers…

– were able to extend the Yankees pen prior to Hiroki Kuroda making his first ever start on three days’ rest on Sunday. Rafael Soriano and David Robertson both worked in extras. So did David Phelps, who would have been the long man Sunday had Kuroda struggled.

– hopefully guaranteed that Valverde will never work in another close game in the series. Valverde doesn’t seem to be deceiving anyone with his 92-94 mph fastball at the moment and he’s been struggling with his splitter for months. That Valverde was so awful in blowing his second straight lead should mean Jim Leyland will give Al Alburquerque and Octavio Dotel increased responsibility going forward, which is a very good thing for the Tigers.

The extra-inning game also resulted in Derek Jeter’s fractured ankle, putting him out for the postseason. The Tigers don’t want any credit for that, and they’d surely rather have beaten the Yankees at their best. That said, it certainly helps their chances of winning the ALCS that the Yankees will be without their captain the rest of the way.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.