You picked the Orioles in five. So does this surprise even you?
Well, yes, in the sense that the Tigers managed to squeeze all their foibles, i.e. the reasons I didn't trust them, into three compact games. Everything happened that I was afraid of, except that it happened in 27 innings instead of 45.
And those things were?
Where do I begin? The bullpen; an ill-timed hitting funk; bad base running; suspect defense; a rookie manager; lack of depth; Alex Avila getting another concussion.
All of it happened in three short games.
OK so let's talk about Game 3 specifically. David Price was on his game, and it looked like the Tigers might get to Bud Norris early. What about the Andrew Romine play at first base in the second inning that Brad Ausmus challenged? Safe or out?
The ruling on the field was out, which nullified a run. Ausmus challenged and the ruling stood. Had the ruling on the field been safe, and the Orioles challenged, they likely would have lost as well. In other words, it was one of those plays that replay couldn't quite overturn; it was that close.
But for what it's worth, I thought Romine was safe. His foot seemed to hit the bag before the baseball hit the back of Steve Pearce's glove.
Then, in the third inning, Baltimore shortstop J.J. Hardy committed a throwing error that put Tigers runners on second and third with two outs. Orioles manager Buck Showalter elected to pitch to Victor Martinez with first base open. What about that move?
You know what that tells me? That J.D. Martinez has earned tremendous respect in a relatively short period of time. Showalter elected to pitch to the league's second best hitter (by batting average) with first base open, rather than face J.D. with the bases loaded.
But you're forgetting about Don Kelly's bad base running just prior to that situation. On second base, he made the cardinal sin of being cut down on a ground ball to the left side of the infield. That cost the Tigers a run, too.
Nelson Cruz struck again, dropping a fly ball over the 330-foot mark in the right field corner in the sixth inning for a two-run homer and a 2-0 Orioles lead. Is there no end to the ways in which Cruz will kill the Tigers?
The TBS announcers were just as amazed as anyone in the ballpark. I thought it was a foul ball. I think most people did. When things like that happen, it's not your series. The baseball gods haven't smiled on the Tigers all that much in the past four Octobers.
The Comerica Park crowd seemed awfully quiet, no?
That was a bad baseball postseason crowd. It sounded nervous and acted as if it wasn't going to make any noise unless it had to make noise. The Tigers couldn't possibly have fed off that kind of low energy inside CoPa. Terrible job by the fans.
In the bottom of the ninth, Showalter broke the axiom that says you don't intentionally put the potential game-winning run on base when he walked Nick Castellanos with one out and a runner on second. Thoughts?
You mean, other than everything Buck touched in this series turned to gold? It was a quality move, because Castellanos was the last legitimate major league hitter that closer Zach Britton was going to face until the batting order turned over. Showalter played for the double play (which he got) with a sinker ball pitcher, but more than that, he forced Brad Ausmus to go to his thin bench. I mean, Hernan Perez was the Tigers' last hope. Think about that for a moment.
Bud Norris shut the Tigers down on two hits for 6.1 innings, then gave way to ex-Tiger (and near re-Tiger) Andrew Miller for 1.2 perfect innings. Thoughts?
Once again, the Tigers made a second tier pitcher look like Cy Young, which was another reason I didn't trust them heading into the playoffs. As for Miller, his performance in this series was everything the Tigers bullpen isn't: efficient and drama-free.
OK, this question has to be asked. In an off-season that promises to be among the most turbulent in recent Tigers history, what about the future of Ausmus as manager, with Ron Gardenhire available?
That chatter started on Twitter before the final out was made on Sunday, and will only intensify. It would be out of character for the Tigers to can Ausmus after just one season, but if owner Mike Ilitch gives the directive, it will happen. That's how the Tigers acquired Miguel Cabrera, don't forget. Ilitch is easily star struck, and that would include a high-profile manager hire, which Gardenhire certainly would be.
Gardenhire has won, he knows the AL Central and it's fun to think of what he could have done with the roster that Ausmus had. Even though the winter months will bring significant churn to the Tigers roster, Gardenhire would no doubt drool at the thought of managing in Detroit, with an owner that will actually spend some money, unlike what he had in Minnesota most of the time he was there.
But frankly, I wouldn't count on such a bold move—again, unless Ilitch gives the order, which isn't out of the realm of possibility. It's just not likely, I don't believe.
Well, this was short and not-so-sweet. Three games' worth of Burning Questions. Thanks for playing.
And I was just hitting my stride. Baseball can be cruel.