Perhaps the Detroit Tigers gave all they had in winning Thursday’s Game 5 of the ALCS. That was their last hurrah, in front of the Comerica Park crowd for the last time this season.
The effort of trying to stay alive in the ALCS after falling behind 2-0 and 3-1 in the series finally gave out in Game 6 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Pitching carried the Tigers through the regular season and postseason but crumbled against a relentless Rangers lineup that constantly brings a threat to the plate.
Texas wins the American League championship and is off to the World Series for the second consecutive season after beating the Tigers 15-5 in Game 6 of the ALCS. Nelson Cruz was an easy choice for MVP of the series after hitting six home runs — including a two-run shot in Game 6 — against Detroit.
Detroit needed a great start from their starting pitcher Max Scherzer, and unfortunately didn’t get it. Scherzer lasted only 2 1/3 innings, lacking the sharp control that he displayed in his previous postseason outings. Not being able to locate his secondary pitches gave him major problems and the Rangers took advantage.
But Scherzer is hardly the only reason the Tigers lost on Saturday. Pitching failed them across the board. No matter who else Leyland brought in from the bullpen, they couldn’t stanch the bleeding.
Daniel Schlereth and Rick Porcello couldn’t defuse the explosive situation Scherzer created in the third inning — a frame in which Texas scored nine runs and put the game out of reach. And Brad Penny confirmed his lower standing on the Tigers’ playoff pitching staff with a simply awful performance.
Realistically, the game was already out of hand and the series was lost by the time Penny took the mound in the sixth inning. But whatever slim hope the Tigers may have had by that point was lit up in flames by Penny pitching batting practice to the Rangers. In just 1 2/3 innings of work, he allowed five runs on seven hits with two walks and two home runs. Maybe Penny will pitch better in the National League next year.
Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs for the Tigers in a losing effort, including a bomb off Mike Adams in the ninth. But obviously, it was hardly enough against the Rangers’ offensive onslaught. Jhonny Peralta and Austin Jackson also homered for Detroit, while Victor Martinez batted 3-for-4.
So a thrilling season for the Tigers finally comes to an end. The Rangers were the better team in this series and the Game 6 blowout put an exclamation point on that. Despite that, Detroit hung tough for five of the six games and if they’d been able to break through against a deep Rangers bullpen, perhaps the series could’ve turned out differently. But that’s a point that can be examined further in the days to come.
95 wins, an AL Central title, and an ALDS victory over the New York Yankees was a fine season. Cabrera won a batting title. Jose Valverde racked up 49 saves without blowing one. Justin Verlander will almost certainly win the AL Cy Young Award. And we saw the emergence of two players who will hopefully continue to be starts in Alex Avila and Doug Fister.
Before dissecting the roster to figure out what needs to be done for next season (and there will be plenty of that), the Tigers gave us a lot to appreciate this season. That final loss was embarrassing and it hurt, but it certainly does nothing to change what came before it. The 2011 season was a thrill ride that deserves a standing ovation.