5 Best Non-World Series Seasons for Detroit Tigers
By Matt Pelc
Oct 19, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino (18) reacts after hitting a grand slam against the Detroit Tigers during the seventh inning in game six of the American League Championship Series playoff baseball game at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
#3: 2013 Detroit Tigers (93-69, 1 GA of Cleveland Indians)
Let’s fast forward 98 years. The 2013 season seemed like THE year for the Tigers. The year before, after their first trip to the playoffs in four seasons, the team had been bounced out of the postseason by a more experienced Texas Rangers team and they figured to be ready to roll in 2012, they struggled most of the season, winning the division late by overtaking the Chicago White Sox.
That team finished with just 88 wins, but got incredibly hot in the playoffs and made it to the World Series for the second time in seven seasons before being humiliated via a four-game sweep. This seemed to serve as motivation for the Tigers as they fought a resurgent Cleveland Indians team for much of the season, but decimated them in the season series, 15 wins to 4 losses.
Led by Miguel Cabrera’s second-straight MVP season (.344 avg., 44 homers, 137 RBIs), Max Scherzer‘s Cy Young campaign (21-3, 2.90 ERA, and a solid season from Anibal Sanchez, the Tigers were in good shape heading to the postseason–except for their recurring Achilles Heel, the bullpen.
For the second consecutive season, the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics battled through a memorable ALDS with Justin Verlander (who had a fairly pedestrian regular season) shut down the A’s twice and beat them in their own place for a second straight year in a do-or-die game.
Though they would start on the road for the ALDS you had to like the Tigers chances of getting to their second straight World Series against the Boston Red Sox, a team that had finished in last place the year before and had a new manager. The Tigers matched up better at nearly every position–except the bullpen.
We all know the story, the Tigers won Game 1 by the score of 1-0 behind a terrific performance from Sanchez. They had Boston on the ropes in Game 2, leading 5-0 behind Scherzer, but Max got tired, allowed some runs and then the bullpen allowed a Grand Slam that changed the momentum of the series.
Back in Detroit for the middle three games a pitching duel, a bad performance by Sanchez and an inconsistent offense saw the Tigers lose two out of three games. Back in Boston for Game 6, history repeated itself as the bullpen imploded and allowed another Grand Slam and the season was over.
Out of all the playoff teams since 2006 that just haven’t gotten the job done, I truly believe this one was the best of the bunch. The one that could have won it all if not for a few badly located pitches.