DETROIT – At least they gave it a fight in Game 4.
At least they didn’t go out with a whimper. Having said that, what a shocking revelation the Detroit Tigers, the favorites to beat the Giants in the World Series, were swept by the San Francisco Giants when Marco Scutaro drove in the winning run in the top of the 10th for a 4-3 Giants’ win Sunday night.
This was actually a good game and the Tigers came to play. They led, 2-1, when Miguel Cabrera dusted off the cobwebs and hit a two-run homer in very cold, raw conditions in the third inning. But Buster Posey answered with a two-run blast against Max Scherzer in the sixth before Delmon Young tied it with a solo shot to right in the sixth.
So there was at least a fight.
The Tigers bullpen has been suspect, but Phil Coke struck out the side in the ninth. In the 10th he allowed a single to Ryan Theriot and a sacrifice bunt to Brandon Crawford. After he struck out Angel Pagan, he fell Behind Scutaro, 3 and 1. Scutaro responded.
The Tigers couldn’t solve Sergio Romo in the bottom of the 10th and that ended Detroit’s season.
Nothing really went right and it started with Justin Verlander getting his lunch handed to him in Game 1. That set the wrong tone. The two big guys – Cabrera and Prince Fielder — never got going except for Cabrera’s homer. And when those two guys don’t hit, it seems nobody hits.
“There were no bad breaks or flukes,” said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. “They swept us. They did better than we did. You can’t sit up here and find a reason or excuse. We didn’t hit enough. We had five hits again tonight. They deserved it. They’re the World Series champions.”
How strange was it to sweep the Yankees and get swept by the Giants?
“It’s a freaky game and it happened,” Leyland said.
Cabrera didn’t make any friends when he failed to speak to the media after a Game 3 loss, but when homered to give Detroit the lead, all was forgiven.
But Cabrera did nothing after the homer. He struck out three times. And then with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, the only hope left for the Tigers, he took a called third strike to end Detroit’s season.
And so his Game 3 crime did stand out after all.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, is the guy who’s always there and accountable. But at the Tigers’ lowest moment, Cabrera left teammates like Fielder to answer the negative questions after that loss.
Major League Baseball does not fine players for failure to meet with the media in the postseason, but most of the other major sports do. Albert Pujols also declined comment after he hit three homers in one game last season.
Cabrera’s excuse was that he had friends and family to visit after the game, but that’s the case for the other 49 players in this World Series.
Cabrera had a whirlwind day prior to Game 3. He was named recipient of the Hank Aaron Award as the top slugger. He was presented his Triple Crown in a pre-game ceremony. He’s the front-runner to win the AL MVP award.
It is also the stage on which players go the extra mile to cooperate. You would never see Derek Jeter brush off the media or any of his duties.
Cabrera messed up.
He explained himself before Game 4 when he said that he was meeting family and friends right after the game, but that’s the case with the other players. Everyone has friends and family at the game. Every other player has to meet up with them when their baseball duties are over.
And it wasn’t lost on Leyland.
“You’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt when you’re on a national stage like this, and that’s one thing that at some point, I’ll talk to him about,” Leyland said. “But I’m also going to say this, and I’m not defending anything, I’m just making a point. As a manager you have to be careful. I will deal with the situation and check into it, because you have to be there through good and bad.
“When we’re 0-3, I’ve got to be up here and I’m not the happiest camper in the world. However, you have a responsibility,” Leyland said.
Reporters need to make an issue of players who will not answer questions. Not for us, but for the readers. Cabrera’s also one of baseball’s biggest stars. He has a responsibility to be an ambassador for Major League Baseball and that’s not something that’s written in his contract, but something he should feel given the status he has in the game.
He needs to feel accountable for poor performance, both individually and from a team standpoint.
The Tigers tried to save face in a series they were favored to win and they couldn’t do it.
Cabrera needed to do his talking on the field and with a bat in his hands.
With one swing he did it, but three other times he whiffed.
The best player in baseball this season came up short and so did his team.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.