The most impressive thing about the Tigers' 5-4 win over the Yankees in last night's series opener might have been the way Detroit closer Jose Valverde struck out the heart of the order -- Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez -- in the ninth inning. It was Mariano Rivera-like but with a little extra relish when Valverde celebrated at the end.

Those three Yankees hitters all have been hot lately. In fact, Swisher is hitting .429 in May, and his five home runs and 13 RBI this month are tied for first and second, respectively, in the majors. Teixeira hit his fourth home run in three games earlier in last night's game, and A-Rod is 7 for 13 on this road trip.

Interestingly, the Yankees are the only team in the majors without a 1-run win this season (0-3), which might say more about how their powerful lineup has clubbed the opposition most of the season. But Detroit has a six-game home winning streak, and it's quite possible the Yankees will be seeing more of Valverde in save situations in the next three games.

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Last night marked Valverde's ninth save, which is tied for the American League lead. He hasn't allowed any runs in his past 14 appearances covering 13.2 innings, and the 6-4, 255-pound Dominican has held opponents to a .128 batting average (.103 against lefties and .167 against righties). His ERA is a microscopic 0.61.

You've got to believe Valverde's fist-pumping stuck in the Yankees' craw just a little bit last night.