The Detroit Tigers season came to an unceremonious close on Sunday, hours after the Detroit Lions lost a heartbreaking Week 5 game against the Buffalo Bills due to a repeated kicker problem.
The problem for the Tigers all season was their bullpen. They struggled to close out games and, as a result, they only managed to win the division by a single game — on the final day of the season.
The problem reared it’s ugly fucking head in the first two games of the postseason in Baltimore. The Tigers gave up TWELVE (12!!!) runs in the 8th inning alone, which definitely cost them Game 2.
Game 3 was in Detroit and David Price had the rock, so the odds for a Game 4 were in the Tigers’ favor. However, two terrible calls, poor hitting from the home team, Nelson Cruz’s magnetic Tiger-killer bat and horrible depth would doom the Tigers.
Down 2-0 going into the ninth, Joe Nathan, ironically, had a perfect 1-2-3 top half. The Tigers had a chance to at least tie the game in the bottom half after back-to-back doubles from the V-J Martinez combo, but Buck Showalter intentionally walked rookie Nick Castellanos to set up a force and a showdown between the O’s closer and HERNAN PEREZ. Yes, Perez was the best Ausmus could pluck from his bench. Predictably, Perez grounded into a game-ending double play to complete the sweep.
The Tigers won the Central Division for the 4th season in a row, a remarkable and proud feat, but expectations are World Series title or bust at this point. Especially for Mike Ilitch, who is not getting any younger (frankly, I’d be surprised if he lived through next October). He has opened his heart and wallet for this team since 2005, and he deserved better than a couple failed World Series appearances. The Tigers have three (3!!!) different former Cy Young winners and a two-time MVP, Triple-Crown winning hitter in the middle of the lineup — the team should have accomplished more. I’ll argue until my dying day that errors cost them a title in 2006; I don’t know what in 2012; and the bullpen failed them the last two years.
The Tigers have had the talent but have failed to put it all together to win a title and for that I am disappointed. I am sad. But I am also grateful to be a fan of a team that has made the playoffs in 5 of the last 9 seasons. For that, I thank you Mr. Ilitch. I thank you Detroit Tigers.
I just hope the first World Series title since 1984 comes sooner rather than later. Let’s get ’em next year.