A team with over 46 million dollars of payroll in the daily lineup has been shutout two times in a row in the Fall Classic. A team has not wasted two pitching performances worthy of wins (and one after Doug Fister took a line drive off his head). We have seen the Detroit Tigers offense be very streaky all year, but never have we seen the bats go this cold for this long. The more depressing thing is this is when it matters most, and if we are going to play the blame game we need to put them blame on The Tigers’ big three.
While the stagnant offense certainly deserves most of the blame, let us not forget we can actually blame Justin Verlander for this mess twice. He terrible performance in the All Star Game is why this series started in San Francisco and we can argue that starting at home may (maybe a very small may) been better for this team. It was also Verlander who took the loss in Game One, and not a loss because the offense was cold (which it sort of was) but a loss in which he let one guy beat him. Need I remind you that JV is now 0-3 with an 8.49 ERA for his career in the Fall Classic. What you do in October matters most, and this team as a whole has performed terrible on the biggest possible stage.
It is really hard to start blaming Jim Leyland at this point. Ultimately it is the players on the field who have to perform and the Tigers roster as a whole (minus the pitching staff) has failed to perform. However, Jimmy Smokes record in the World Series is now just 1-7 as skipper of this club. That was with two completely different teams as only three players (JV, Omar Infante, and Ramon Santiago) played in both the 2006 and 2011 World Series for the Tigers. That is not a poke at Leyland, just a fact.
Let us not forget Jose Valverde. When a bullpen loses a member it affects it adversely, when the bullpen loses its closer it begins to melt down. Leyland has had to use Phil Coke as his closer, meaning his role of situational lefty has been unmanned. Drew Smyly, a rookie starting pitcher, has had to been used twice this post season with pretty mixed results.
However, I save the lions share of the blame for Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera came to the plate last night with the bases loaded, and failed to do big damage. Price Fielder seems like he hits into a double play every time the Tigers have something brewing. He went 0-4 last night with two strike outs. For the 2012 post season he is hitting just .188 with only one extra base hit. He has just one hit in the World Series, and has driven in only three runs in these playoffs. Make no mistake about it these two guys get paid 20 million dollars a year to perform when it matters most. Tigers owner Mike Illitch and the fans of this team should be demanding some salary back.