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A great season ends, not with a bang...but a whimper. Rangers end Tigers' year with malice, 15-5

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Final - 10.15.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 5 10 2
Texas Rangers 0 0 9 0 1 2 3 0 X 15 17 0
WP: Alexi Ogando (2 - 0)
LP: Max Scherzer (1 - 1)

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Congratulations to the Texas Rangers. They are deserving AL champions.

BOX

KEY STAT A

It's all about the bottom of the 3rd inning, which will go down in Tigers' infamy.

Via @FreepTigers:

Texas scores nine in the bottom of the third. Most runs in an inning in postseason history for Rangers.

Want to feel worse?

Via ESPN Stats & Info:

Rangers are 5th team to score 9+ runs in an inning in a postseason game. Last to do it was Angels in 2002 ALCS Game 5 vs Twins (10 runs)

Between the 1st and 2nd outs of the fateful 3rd inning, 9 consecutive Rangers reached base. There was your ballgame.

KEY STAT B

Max Scherzer's line: 2.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 1 K.

Blue eye Max was on the mound for a couple of innings, then brown eyed Max decided to show up. All Hell broke loose for brown eyed Max in the 3rd, ultimately leaving the game with the bases loaded...after Nelson Cruz struck out on a checked swing, and Scherzer didn't get the call.

Regardless, Scherzer just didn't have it tonight. You can make a very good argument Jim Leyland left Scherzer on the mound at least 2 batters too long.

KEY PLAY

David Murphy's bases loaded, 2 RBI single in the 3rd, breaking a 2-2 tie, opening the floodgates.

Scherzer was on the ropes. Rick Porcello was warmed up, ready to enter the game. But Leyland decided to go for the lefty-lefty matchup. Instead of Procello, Daniel Schlereth was brought in to relieve. He had yet to throw a pitch in the ALCS (for good reason), yet was asked to all but save the Tigers season. Schereth needed to do one thing, something he had trouble doing all year long, get a left handed batter out.

Schlereth immediately proceeded to fall behind in the count, and Murphy's at bat ended as we all expected.

Badly.

KEY THOUGHTS

Let the second guessing of Jim Leyland begin....after the jump.

Why keep Scherzer in the game as long as he did? Why use Schlereth over Porcello? Was the lefty-lefty matchup really preferable, when Schlereth hadn't been used all series long? Why wait to put Porcello in the game? Regardless of how Porcello ultimately pitched (not very well, only getting 1 out, allowing 2 runs), isn't he a better option than the raw Schlereth?

When you have to call on Ryan Perry to settle things down and pitch long relief...well, that pretty much says it all.

Leyland is going to be roasted over the coals, deservedly.

Once again, the Tigers got to the Rangers' starter early, holding a 2-0 lead after 2 innings. Derek Holland allowed home runs to Miguel Cabrera,(the big man went down swinging, going deep in the 8th as well) Jhonny Peralta, and Jackson, and was unable to get out of the 5th. But, once again, the Rangers' bullpen held the Tigers' bats in check.

To top the evening off, there was a Brad Penny appearance, his first of the playoffs. After allowing 7 hits, 5 runs and ALCS MVP Nelson Cruz's 6th home run of the series, it will be his last time wearing the old English D.

Austin Jackson's post season was memorable...for all the wrong reasons. His defense has been brutal, making a pair of misplays (with an "assist" from Ryan Raburn) tonight. He did single and homer, but the K's also continued unabated. Jackson struck out 11 times in 25 at bats in this series, and finished with 19 K's in 41 post season at bats. Jackson's 3rd inning K was his 200th overall on the season. If anyone needs time off, it's one Austin Jackson.

OK, enough of the second guessing and venting.

Yes, the game and series ended in painful fashion. But let's keep things in perspective. The Rangers are a great team, absolutely loaded on offense. Back-to-back AL pennants back that up. There's no shame in losing to the Rangers. None whatsoever. And the Tigers played them damn tough, losing twice in extra innings. All with a roster decimated by injuries.

So we should celebrate the 2011 Detroit Tigers, not damn them with faint praise.

This was GREAT season for the Tigers. 2011 didn't end in the way we hoped, but finishing in MLB's final 4 is one Hell of a successful season. There are 26 other franchises who would love to be in the Tigers' shoes.

It's safe to say this team exceeded everyone's expectations. The 2011 Tigers gave us our most enjoyable regular season since 1987. Let's not forget they took out the Evil Empire in 5 memorable ALDS games. That alone will have me feeling warm and fuzzy all winter long.

It gets even better.

This is a team with 2 legitimate MVP candidates in Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera. Verlander is going to win the AL Cy Young unanimously. Doug Fister was the best pitcher in baseball after the trade deadline. Scherzer and Porcello have yet to reach their full potential, and we saw how good they can be earlier in the playoffs. The rotation is set for the next several years. Jose Valverde never blew a single save opportunity. Joaquin Benoit was tough as nails, a lights out set up man.

Iron Man Alex Avila had a break out, All Star season. Jhonny Peralta was one of the best shortstops in the majors.Victor Martinez was an offensive machine. Brennan Boesch proved he belongs in the everyday lineup.Delmon Young did wonders for the Tigers' offense after being given up on by the Twins. Jackson played Gold Glove caliber defense, and was damn near a one man outfield at times.

And say what you will about Jim Leyland's game strategy, he one of the best at running a clubhouse and managing personalities. He's a great fit for this Tigers team.

If all that doesn't have you excited for the 2012 season, you're dead inside. Or still in shock from tonight's loss.

2011 was a great season for the Tigers. I fully expect 2012 to be more of the same.