Tigers' season ends as bullpen fails again in ALCS

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 20, 2013 at 1:16 am •  Published: October 20, 2013
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BOSTON (AP) — Max Scherzer dressed silently after his strong outing, the latest by a Tigers starter.

Jose Veras did the same in an adjacent locker after his blunder, the latest by a Tigers reliever.

No words necessary.

Justin Verlander would not get a chance to produce another gem in Game 7. The AL championship series ended Saturday night when the Boston Red Sox beat Detroit 5-2 in Game 6 on the strength of Shane Victorino's go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning that cleared the Green Monster.

"I feel bad. I let the team down," Veras said. "I've got to live with that. We lost the game."

Six days earlier, David Ortiz's grand slam off closer Joaquin Benoit tied Game 2 in the eighth inning, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia's single in the ninth won it 6-5.

"If you guys try to slam the bullpen for what they did, you're naive," a composed Scherzer said after his solid start was wasted. "That's a quality team over there. Unfortunately, a couple of guys executed."

Detroit is loaded with starting pitching: Scherzer led the majors with 21 wins and is this year's AL Cy Young Award favorite, Verlander was the 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner and Anibal Sanchez led the league in ERA this season.

Throw in Doug Fister, who won Game 4 against Boston, and the Tigers certainly got the outstanding performance they were counting on from their starters in this series.

In their 11 postseason games, Tigers starters had a 2.39 ERA, their relievers 4.07.

The bullpen actually had some good moments in the ALCS. It allowed no hits in three of the games and four in Game 4, a 7-3 Detroit win.

But, oh, those grand slams.

Ortiz's came on the first pitch Benoit threw to him. Victorino's came on the third from Veras — after two strikes.

That third pitch, a curveball, was a bit too high.

"Our staff has pitched very well. Our bullpen has pitched very well," Detroit catcher Alex Avila said. "I know people will mention that grand slam tonight and Ortiz's, which is unfortunate, but our guys all season and postseason pitched great."

Scherzer pitched very well in both his ALCS starts but was gone by the time the bullpen blew it.

On Saturday, he allowed one hit through the first four innings. Then he retired the first two batters in the fifth before rookie Xander Bogaerts doubled off the left-center wall. On the next pitch, Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single for the first run of the game before ending the inning when he was caught trying to steal.

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