Tuesday, October 18, 2011

There is No Joy in the Motor City

There is no joy in the Motor City today for the mighty Tigers have lost. The storybook year for the Tigers has come to an end. With the 15-5 drubbing they received from the Rangers, the hope for a World Series appearance is over.

The Tigers went 20 and 5 to end the season and took the Yankees 3-2 in the ALDS with what looked like an unstoppable force. Justin Verlander was great and Jose Valverde was perfect. Going into the series with the Rangers, the Tigers looked to be strong from both sides of the plate. And they were strong until game 6.

Game six was the undoing of a great season. It happens, but not quite so dramatically. All the previous games in the series were very tight. Extra innings won the day for the Rangers each time with a home run by Nelson Cruz. Of course the famous no-out grand slam, served up by Ryan Perry, in game 2 will be remembered as a first. And again of course, Nelson Cruz put the bite on again in game 4 to seal the deal. Each of these home runs were pitches in the wheel-house and just asking to be hit. Jose Valverde lost just once this season, and that in his last appearance. He still had a great year.

The situation with the Tigers was that the pitching let them down. Jason Verlander and Doug Fister were strong but other starters had more than enough to handle with the Ranger hitters (all of whom contributed in game 6). Tiger relievers were simply out matched by Ranger hitting. It is interesting to note that Tiger starters Verlander and Fister won games, no starter for the Rangers won a game at all. The relievers did the damage and Alexi Orgando won two from the bullpen.

Game 6 showed a number of problems. In the infamous third inning, the relievers just could not, for example, get a pitch low and away for a strike. Rick Porcello, after the game, complained about a call from the home plate umpire. He might have been right this time, but it did not make up for the walks and hits already given up. Most of the Rangers hits, again, were pitches right in the wheel-house. As far as hitting was concerned, the Tigers did themselves proud. They did hit against Ranger pitching. The Rangers, however, had a field day with Tiger pitching. Ranger hitters got 8 walks, only 4 strikeouts, 17 hits and a BA of .415. The Tigers had no walks, 8 strikeouts and a BA 0f .286 (normally in a playoff series not a bad day).

Walks and errors will kill your chances, as they always seem to score runs. The third inning was also awful in the field. Austin Jackson booted a ball, allowing a hit and everyone was safe. Next came the strange play of Delmon Young who, himself, booted a missed catch and then made an awful throw to home, missing the action allowing 2 runs to score. This is where it really fell apart. If he had made that play, just maybe, the Tigers could have gotten out of the third with one run scored and the inning over.

Jim Leyland has done a good job with this team. It has only two players from the ill-fated 2006 team remaining: Justin Verlander and Brandon Inge. To have this team rise like they did at just the right time was a marvel. In game 6, the collapse was sudden and complete. I guess, all winter, Tiger fans will wonder why Nelson Cruz was not intentionally walked.

My hat is off to the Rangers. They won big. Now, on to the World Series!


Rick Blechta said...

I'm sorry that Detroit lost, but Texas is obviously the better team this year. It's nice to see Ron Washington do well, too. They should have had him play himself in Moneyball!

John the Tomahawk Trembath said...

I like Ron Washington too. Love those moves. I agree on both counts. rangers better then the Tigers. I would have loved, however, to see the Tigers face the Cards. It would be interesting. Baseball springs eternal next year.