Jose Valverde: 49-for-49 in saves in 2011, blows one on Opening Day, vultures win

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UPDATE: Yup, he vultured it!  After blowing his first save of the season, Jose Valverde gets the win when Mark Melancon couldn’t keep the Tigers off the bases and Alfredo Aceves couldn’t keep Austin Jackson from singling home the winning run.

4:08 PM: Jose Valverde was absolutely perfect for the Tigers last year, saving all 49 of his 49 save opportunities. I guess it’s a new season, however, because he just blew his first chance in 2012.

Justin Verlander pitched eight shutout innings, and Valverde came in to pitch the ninth with a 2-0 lead. He then gave up a double to Dustin Pedroia, a single to Adrian Gonzalez, a sac fly to David Ortiz which scored Pedroia, and a triple to Ryan Sweeney which scored pinch runner Darnell McDonald. The top of the ninth ended with the score tied at two.

We’ll update if Valverde vultures a win.  Some pitchers just know how to win, you see.

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.