Saturday, October 15, 2011

Crushed

I was prepared for lots of Tigers winning scenarios tonight.  I saw the good Max Scherzer showing up.  I envisioned the Tigers bats picking up where they left off in game five.  I pictured scoreless innings by Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde with Valverde dancing after the last out.  At the same time, I was prepared for plenty of bad scenarios.  Most of them involved a tight game and a heart breaking loss.  I was not prepared for a nine-run third inning by the Rangers.

We've seen it all year with Scherzer.  He can be very good or very bad and not usually anything in between.  The good thing is that he excels more often than fails including his previous playoff appearances.  Tonight, however, Mr Hyde showed up.

After Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta staked Scherzer to an early 2-0 lead with solo homers, Scherzer fell apart in the third.  He allowed six consecutive Rangers to reach on three hits and three walks.  Manager Jim Leyland was forced to take him out early and roll the dice with his shaky middle relief corps. 

The Tigers bullpen could do nothing to stop the Rangers attack.  The nine-run third-inning explosion pretty much ended the game and the Tigers season.  It didn't stop there.  The Rangers continued their assault against a parade of Tigers relievers including Dan Schlereth, Rick Porcello, Ryan Perry and Brad Penny. Sloppy outfield defense didn't help matters either. The final score was an embarrassing 15-5.

It was a difficult end to what was a fine season for the Tigers.  They won the American League Central by 15 games thanks to a fantastic finish including a 12-game winning streak.  They had a good number of walk-offs and other exciting wins.  They had as many great individual seasons as any Tigers team I can remember.  Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila, Jose Valverde, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta were all at or near the top of the league for their positions.

Our Tigers followed up with a thrilling victory over the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs.  That one ended with a game-five win at Yankee Stadium which should be remembered as one of the best wins in Tigers history.  They battled hard for the first five games of the League Championship series.  They were two key hits away from the World Series before everything unraveled tonight.

The game tonight was pretty tough to take and it's going to take a bit to shake it from our memories.  Ultimately though, we should remember this as a good and very entertaining season for the Tigers.

For now, I will just say congratulation to the Texas Rangers for their second straight American League pennant.

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