Another year, another heart-wrenching end.
For the first time in ALCS history, a team hit multiple go-ahead grand slams in a single series. Shane Victorino played hero for Game 6 as Boston defeated Detroit 5-2 to meet St. Louis in the World Series.
The name of the game, as always for Detroit in the postseason, was mistakes.
The Tigers had multiple chances to put the game out of reach, but couldn’t capitalize. In the sixth inning, with runners on the corners and nobody out, the reliable Jhonny Peralta came to the plate. But he grounded to the second baseman, and a poor base running decision by Fielder landed him in a pickle and cost the Tigers two outs.
In the 7th inning, Leyland made another questionable decision by taking Scherzer out at 110 pitches. With runners on first and second and one out, he brought in Drew Smyly to face Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury grounded to Iglesias in what seemed like a routine double play, but Iglesias bobbled the grounder and didn’t have a play.
All of a sudden the bases were loaded, Shane Victorino was up to the plate, and Torii Hunter’s back was already throbbing. There was a feeling that something special would happen in Fenway again.
It didn’t take long. Victorino (with an .086 average in the ALCS to that point) smacked an 0-2 pitch over the Green Monster, and a 2-1 deficit flipped to a 5-2 lead. With one pitch, Boston was six outs away from the pennant.
With closer Koji Uehara showing the Tigers how relief pitching is done, Detroit didn’t threaten again.
The 2013 year comes to a close for Detroit, a disappointing one when expectations are set so high for a team. It was World Series or bust, and the Tigers faithful will spend their offseason asking themselves the ‘what if?’ questions. What if Iglesias handles that ball correctly? What if Leyland doesn’t take Scherzer out before the two pivotal grand slams?
Questions linger whether Max Scherzer and Jim Leyland will even return to this team for 2014. Leyland’s one year contract has expired and Max has one year remaining to re-negotiate. A congratulations goes out to Boston as they face the NLCS winners, the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday for Game 1 of the World Series.