Valverde hits saves century mark with Tigers

Valverde hits saves century mark with Tigers

Valverde hits saves century mark with Tigers
DETROIT -- With a scoreless ninth inning to seal a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night, closer Jose Valverde became the fifth pitcher in Tigers history to record 100 career saves with the club.

And Valverde did it exactly the way you would expect him, too.

He didn't strike anyone out. He didn't have a clean inning. He did allow things to get a bit interesting when 45-year-old Omar Vizquel singled with two outs in a one-run game -- although it was nothing like Valverde's usual heart-stoppers. But in the end, he danced.

"I think he deserved that and it's going to be a lot more coming," said Joaquin Benoit, the eighth-inning guy who has been setting up most of Valverde's save opportunities since last season. "It's a good milestone for him and hopefully he can keep getting some more with us."

In his three years with the Tigers, Valverde has been one of the best closers in the game. Although he keeps it interesting, his conversion rate on save chances ranks as the best of any closer since 2010.

Valverde tallied 26 saves his first year in the Motor City before his historic 49-for-49 season in 2011. When catcher Alex Avila threw out Vizquel attempting to steal second on Wednesday, Valverde recorded his 25th save this year.

"I'm happy for him," Avila said. "Getting 100 saves, that's a pretty good accomplishment. It's not easy throwing a guy out with him on the mound, but I was pretty excited to end the game."

Holding runners on is one area Valverde hasn't excelled. Until Vizquel, opponents had been 17-for-17 in stolen base attempts against Valverde since Avila threw out Kansas City's Eric Hosmer trying to steal third base on July 10, 2011.

"When Jose's on the mound and a guy takes off, I just try to get rid of it as quickly as possible and try to put a perfect throw," Avila said. "I know a perfect throw is the way I'm going to get a guy with him."