Published October 29, 2012
DETROIT – 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."