2012 was a banner year for the Detroit Tigers. After making some key off-season moves, including one of the biggest signings of the year in Prince Fielder (9 years, $214 million) they Tigers seemed poised for a shot at 2012 World Series. Strong individual years from a number of players helped to make this vision a reality. However, after a bulldozer run through the playoffs, the Tigers now find themselves at the mercy of the San Francisco Giants going into game 4 of the World Series Championship.The question now is: Can the Tigers mount a historic comeback?
Coming back from a 3-0 deficit is a monster order to ask of the Detroit Tigers – but, it’s not altogether unheard of. While no team has ever rebounded from being down 3-0 in the World Series, everyone will remember the Boston Red Sox historic comeback in the 2004 ALCS; the Red Sox would go on to win the World Series that year in dramatic fashion by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals. This being said, no other team in the history of the MLB has comeback to win a single game in the World Series after being down 0-3 since 1970 (the Cincinnati Reds – who still lost the series). Regardless, to discount the Tigers altogether at this point just because they find themselves in such a deep hole would be negligent of us. Sports playoffs were designed for drama and cinderella stories.
World Series statistics aside can this 2012 Detroit Tigers squad make an epic comeback? To say that there is one aspect on the Tigers team that needs to turnaround would be false; both the pitching and hitting have been struggling through this series thus far. However, one aspect in particular has been having greater troubles than the other.
The Tigers pitching has definitely struggled – but, I would not place much of the blame on them. Justin Verlander, arguably one of the best pitchers in the majors, had his worst start of the 2012 playoff in Game 1, giving up 5 runs over 4 innings. If I had told you that Verlander would be pulled after four innings in the World Series a week ago you would never have believed me. Despite Verlander’s performance, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez were actually pretty solid overall in their respective outing. You cannot point the finger at your pitching when they only gave up 4 runs in two nights. If the Tigers pitching can avoid performances like Verlander, and maintain strong outings like those seen by Fister and Sanchez, there really is no reason the Tigers shouldn’t be able to come back.
Where the root of the Tigers problems have lie are in the impotence of the hitting line-up. Prince Fielder has been unable to really make contact with the ball, only recording 1 hit thus far against the Giants. Likely AL MVP Miguel Cabrera has only had 2 hits in the series so far, and only 1 RBI. Delmon Young was an RBI machine in the ALDS and ALCS, and has since been able to bring anyone home in the series so far. Even team workhorse players like, Jhonny Peralta haven’t been able to solve the Giants pitching.
How do the Tigers figure out the Giants pitching? There is no real easy answer to this. The key for them at this point will be patience. When down in a series like this, teams tend to play with a sense of desperation – swinging at anything that comes their way. The Tigers will need to show patience with the Giants pitching, and not get trigger happy at the plate. When you have runners in scoring position and you’re down two-runs late in the game, like last night, you can’t afford to pop-out on a bad pitch Extra time on the field in batting practice probably wouldn’t hurt this underwhelmed hitting team.
If the batting comes alive, and the pitching that we’ve seen in the last two games can come alive, there really is no reason that the Tigers can’t at least make this series interesting to watch. Let’s be honest, the Detroit needs to also have a hope and a prayer that the Giants implode at this point. The Giants aren’t winning because Detroit it playing so poorly – San Francisco really is playing some fantastic baseball right now and has every right to be in the position they’re in. For the Tigersto come back and win the series, divine intervention may be the only solution at this point.