Tame Tigers feel title hopes slipping away

October 28, 2012, 5:13 am
Share This Post


DETROIT -- Prior to the game, Miguel Cabrera shared a table with Hank Aaron and commissioner Bud Selig. With a horde of hundreds of media members crowded around, Aaron, unquestionably one of the greatest ever to step into a batter's box, was effusive in his praise of Cabrera. As Aaron named the Tigers' third baseman the 2012 American League Hank Aaron Award winner for outstanding offensive performance, he pointed out that Cabrera did something that he himself was never able to do -- win the Triple Crown. "You did it, and you did it with poise, and you did it with grace," Aaron said. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson has won a Triple Crown. He was there too, and he handed baseball's first Triple Crown winner since 1967 a real crown, one befitting a king. Yet, hours after being heaped with praise, awards, and even bejeweled headgear, Cabrera could have cost himself a ring and a trophy. Then he ducked out unceremoniously by blowing off the media after a 2-0 loss to San Francisco in Game 3 of the World Series.RECAP: Giants claim 3-0 World Series lead
The Tigers have only scored one run against Giants starting pitchers in this series. They finally had a real chance to do some damage in the fifth inning. Down 2-0 with two outs, Cabrera stepped to the plate with the bases loaded against Ryan Vogelsong. With one swing of the bat he could have changed the game, and possibly the series. Instead, he fouled a two-seam fastball down the right field line. Then popped up a four-seam fastball to end the inning. As the ball landed safely in the shortstop's glove, Cabrera looked down in disgust and punched his helmet. At that moment Vogelsong was king of the hill.
"Obviously we're not going to talk about one atbat taking away from how great Miguel Cabrera is," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We had other opportunities, we didn't get it done." He's right. The blame doesn't fall solely on Cabrera's shoulders. The Tigers had other chances. Vogelsong got Prince Fielder to ground into a inning-ending double play in the first, and got Quintin Berry to do the same in the third. Berry also struck out swinging with one out and the bases loaded before Cabrera came to the plate. "We know that it's crutch time, and it's a time that everyone wants to get the job done," Berry said. "We can't afford to fall any further behind. Everyone wants to come through we've been working so hard and everyone is pulling for one another."As journeyman pitcher Vogelsong hand delivered the Giants a 3-0 series lead, the Tigers were again left tipping their caps to San Francisco's starting pitching. They have successfully kept the Tigers from taking a lead all series long. San Francisco is now 9-1 when scoring first in this postseason and hasn't trailed in a game in their last 54 innings. "Well, obviously I thought we had Ryan on the ropes a couple times tonight," Leyland said."We couldn't get the killer hit or the killer blow."What the Giants pitchers are doing is downright historical. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a team won the first three games of a World Series with starters allowing no more than one run was the 1937 Yankees. In two of those games the Giants brought a two-time Cy Young out of the bullpen in Tim Lincecum. It certainly looks and feels like an unbeatable combination at this point. "They've still got to throw the ball over the plate," Delmon Young said. "We're not seeing any new gyro pitches or anything. They are throwing the typical sinker, slider, change-up, curveball. It's just that they're hitting the glove and when we do get a pitch to drive we seem to miss it or get a leather-finder."No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the World Series. Only one team in 32 chances has come back from such a deficit in a best of seven series -- the 2004 Red Sox.
Reality is starting to sink in for the Tigers players. "Everyone knows that we are kind of letting this one slip away," Berry said. "Guys are kind of down on themselves because we are used to playing way better than this. "We've worked so hard to be better than this, but things aren't going well. You can see it in everybody's faces." The Giants are speeding toward their second San Francisco championship like a cable car down California Street with no breaks and a crazy conductor shoving the lever to full throttle. The Tigers, well, they aren't going anywhere. They look like their wheels have come off. Maybe an emotional raw-raw, spit-flying-from-the-mouth, eyes-bulging pep talk will get the team headed in the right direction. "Well, you don't really have to tell them anything," Leyland said."They can count."Maybe not. "They're big guys, they know what the situation is, and they know we have to come out tomorrow and obviously win a game," Leyland explained. Because if they don't, the Giants will be the 108th World Series champions.

More Team Talk