Athletics

Miguel Cabrera: Tigers 'never found confidence'

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Miguel Cabrera: Tigers 'never found confidence'

From Comcast SportsNetDETROIT (AP) -- Miguel Cabrera stood at the plate and watched one last pitch sail by: strike three to end Detroit's season.The Triple Crown winner had given the Tigers a glimmer of hope with a two-run homer in the third inning, but it wasn't enough. In this series, nothing Detroit did at the plate was enough."I think we never found our confidence," Cabrera said.Cabrera struck out looking in the 10th inning Sunday night for the final out in the Tigers' 4-3 loss to San Francisco in Game 4 of the World Series. The Giants completed a four-game sweep for their second championship in three years, bringing a quiet end to Cabrera's marvelous season and Detroit's latest attempt to win its first title since 1984.After being shut out in Games 2 and 3 and falling behind early in the finale, the Tigers at least mounted one last comeback. Cabrera's wind-blown, two-run drive put Detroit up 2-1 for its first lead of the series. When Buster Posey gave the Giants a 3-2 lead with a sixth-inning homer, Detroit tied it immediately in the bottom half on a solo shot by Delmon Young.But that was it.The Tigers wouldn't score again, and the vaunted middle of their batting order wasn't heard from. After a leadoff walk in the eighth, Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Young struck out in succession, and there was a sense that one more San Francisco run would win it.Marco Scutaro delivered it, singling home the tiebreaking run in the 10th."It is unfortunate, but we played as hard as we could. Losing to the World Series champions isn't too bad," Fielder said. "We played good baseball, but they just beat us. We had a great season to get to the playoffs, and we played well to get to the World Series. You just don't get to write your own script."On one pitch in the eighth Fielder ducked back from one of Jeremy Affeldt's breaking balls, only to have the ball drop over the plate."He was excellent. He was pretty nasty," Fielder said. "You have to tip your cap."The final pitch of the game to Cabrera looked hittable -- but Detroit looked out of synch offensively from the start in this series."I didn't think he was going to throw the fastball," Cabrera said quietly. "But he got me with it."Between this year and 2006, the Tigers have now lost seven consecutive World Series games. That's one off the record of eight, set most recently by the Atlanta Braves in 1996 and 1999, according to STATS, LLC."If somebody told me in spring training that we would be in the World Series, I would have had to say I'll take that," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "It was kind of a weird way that we got there because we were a little inconsistent all year, then we played pretty well when we had to, to get the division, and we obviously played pretty good through the first two rounds of playoffs."After sweeping the New York Yankees in the AL championship series, never trailing in their four games, the AL Central champion Tigers hit .159 in the World Series. They went hitless and struck out eight times in the last four innings Sunday.The average is the third lowest in World Series history, above only the 1969 Orioles (.146) and 1966 Dodgers (.142), according to STATS."I'm a little bit flabbergasted to be honest with you," Leyland said. "In both of those series, I never would have thought that we would have swept the New York Yankees, and I never would have thought that the Giants would have swept us, but it happened. It's a freaky game."If Detroit been able to manage a win, the Tigers would have sent ace Justin Verlander to the mound for Game 5 with a chance to send the series back to San Francisco."You fight as a family for eight months, so it is really difficult to have it end like this," Verlander said. "We can tell ourselves that we were the best team in the American League, and that's a great achievement, but we aren't the best team in the world. That was our goal, and that didn't happen."Fielder, the 214 million acquisition who was brought in to give the Tigers a better shot at that elusive championship, went 1 for 14 in the Series. He hit just .173 with one homer and three RBIs in the postseason, including 1 for 25 (.040) against righties."For us to play like we did against this great club, I couldn't be prouder of these guys," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.Now Detroit will have to come back next year and try again to reward owner Mike Ilitch with a title after his big spending."I'm disappointed for Mr. Ilitch. We wanted this bad for him," Leyland said. "But when you've been in the game a long time, somebody wins and somebody loses."Tigers starter Max Scherzer gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, struck out eight and walked none. Relievers Drew Smyly, Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke held the Giants off until the 10th, but Detroit could never score the additional run needed to win it before extra innings.Coke struck out the side in the ninth but gave up the winning hit an inning later."I apologize to our fans. I did the best I could and we did the best we could. It just wasn't enough," Coke said. "I'm incredibly proud of this team, and anyone who has a negative thing to say, shame on you. I hate having LP' (losing pitcher) next to my name in a World Series game, but I did everything I could."

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

OAKLAND — Bruce Maxwell’s gesture to take a knee during the national anthem Saturday night at the Coliseum was no knee-jerk reaction by the A’s catcher.

It was something he’s considered for a long time, balancing his own personal convictions to make a statement with how it might affect his teammates and organization.

Think it was bold of Maxwell to become the first player in baseball to kneel during the anthem, in protest of racial discrimination and the inflammatory remarks of President Trump? It took just as much guts to stand before his teammates, manager Bob Melvin and GM David Forst and explain why he felt he needed to do it.

He did so in a pregame meeting Saturday that made for a degree of discomfort in the room, but also seemed to have played out in a healthy way.

“I didn’t want them to sugarcoat or aid me when it comes to the media and their personal feelings,” Maxwell said, “because the whole point of this is the ability to protest (based on) our personal beliefs and our personal choices.”

Many athletes have been critical of the President, with things intensifying across the sports landscape Saturday after Trump, among other things, withdrew an invitation for the Warriors to visit the White House and harshly criticized athletes who have knelt during the anthem, saying they should be booted off their teams.

After blasting Trump on both Instagram and Twitter, Maxwell took the field for the anthem and took the action that will define him in the eyes of the baseball world. Maxwell had been wanting to make a statement in some way. He said he and his sister dealt with racial discrimination growing up. Watching Trump’s rally play out in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. on Friday further persuaded Maxwell to finally do so.

“This goes beyond the black community, it goes beyond the Hispanic community, because right now we’re having … a racial divide in all types of people,” said Maxwell, who is African American. “It’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country and it’s basically saying it’s OK to treat people differently. And my kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize the fact that I’m kneeling for a cause. But I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.”

A’s outfielder Mark Canha stood next to Maxwell during the anthem with his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder, a show of support. Canha said he’s considered kneeling before in protest himself but had chosen not to. As he listened to Maxwell address the team, Canha wasn’t going to let his teammate make his statement on his own.

“I could tell he was getting kind of choked up and emotional about his beliefs and how he feels about the racial discrimination that’s going on in this country right now,” Canha said. “I felt like every fiber of my being was telling me that he needed a brother today.”

Canha added that he sensed some “discomfort” in the room as Maxwell addressed the team. But he also said there was support.

“It was an open forum to ask him questions. It was as articulate as I’ve seen him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “This wasn’t an emotional thing just today for him. … I think he handled it really well and everybody was comfortable after the session. I’m proud of him for the fact he went about it the way he did.”

Maxwell, who was born in Germany while his father served in the Army over there, said he will continue to kneel for the anthem. He doesn’t expect his teammates to do the same, only to stick to what they believe in.

“I have plenty of family members, including my father, who have bled for this country,” Maxwell said. “At the end of the day, this the best country on the planet. My hand over my heart symbolized that I am, and will forever be, an American citizen. But my kneeling is what’s getting the attention because I’m kneeling for the people that don't have a voice.”

Madison Bumgarner, Gorkys Hernandez make statements in win over Dodgers

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USATSI

Madison Bumgarner, Gorkys Hernandez make statements in win over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — A 2-1 victory Saturday night at Dodger Stadium all but assured that the Giants will not lose 100 games. They still could, sure, because any sort of downslide is possible in this 2017 season, but they would really have to finish with some sort of ugly stretch. 

Still, it’s been a long season, so it was no surprise when Madison Bumgarner admitted to some sleepless nights since Opening Day. As for Saturday night …

“It’s going to be much easier to go to sleep tonight, because we won,” Bumgarner said.

The big lefty did the heavy lifting, throwing 7 2/3 dominant innings and offering one more reminder that his shoulder is 100 percent fine after a season-halting dirt bike accident. Bumgarner topped out at 93.5 mph, and even though Bruce Bochy thought Dodger Stadium might have had a hot gun on this night, the swings told the story of a good fastball. Bumgarner said this was as good as he has felt in a while. 

“He did look strong,” Bochy said. “He did have really good stuff tonight. It was really crisp.”

It was the kind of night that reminds you that, for all their issues, the Giants will start 2018 with a leg up on many others. They have Madison Bumgarner and you don’t, and that should lead to plenty of good over the course of 32 or 33 starts. 

“I think it’s good for the club to know, hey, he’s back,” Bochy said. “This is the kind of ball we can play.”

It was the brand Bochy appreciates: A strong start, a good bullpen, strong defense, and just enough offense. That’s how the Giants will win in 2018, if they are to do so, which bodes well for the man at the center of Saturday’s offense. The Giants plan to move Denard Span to left field and acquire a new center fielder, but they still lack depth in the organization, and Gorkys Hernandez has made it clear he would like to stick around. He had three hits — including two doubles — and a walk, scoring both Giants runs. 

After a slow start that almost got him released, Hernandez took off over the summer, providing a high average and sparkling defense at three spots. A left wrist tendon issue has slowed him in September, but he surprised the staff by being available for the final two weeks of games, and he said he’ll play through the end of the year before considering any rehab options 

“He certainly has made a statement,” Bochy said. “He’s one of our better athletes. He can play anywhere in the outfield, and what’s impressive is how he’s come on with the bat. A kid like this that plays defense the way he can, and shows he can do some things with the bat, he’s in the mix.”

Hernandez said he loves playing in San Francisco. He intends to spend his offseason getting healthy at his home in Scottsdale before competing for an outfield job. 

“Every time Bochy puts me in the lineup I’m trying to show everyone that I can be here and that I can be part of this team for a long time,” he said.