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Senior Baseball Columnist

Dreadful World Series for Tigers brings back bad memories of 2006 disaster


The Tigers' Prince Fielder is batting .100 (1 for 10) with two strikeouts in the World Series. (US Presswire)  
The Tigers' Prince Fielder is batting .100 (1 for 10) with two strikeouts in the World Series. (US Presswire)  

DETROIT -- It's fast reaching the point where the Tigers and the World Series mix like peanut butter and arsenic. Pepperoni and toilet bowl cleaner.

Sleeping and carbon monoxide.

You'd think after waiting since 1984 for another World Series title, the Tigers would at least show up when they get there. You'd think just once, in a real, live World Series game, if the Motown bats can't find the ball ... the ball eventually would find the bat. Once.

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Every little boy who loves baseball dreams of playing in a World Series.

Given the atrocities the Tigers have committed in the 2006 and 2012 Fall (Not-So-) Classics, kids in Michigan now are hoping to become botanists and coal miners.

Baseball players? No thanks. Those are the poor suckers the World Series eats for lunch.

Routed by the Giants 2-0 in Game 3 here on a frigid Saturday evening -- and yes, routed is the proper word -- the Tigers were pushed to the brink of humiliation.


The Cardinals took them out in five games in 2006.

The Giants now are one win away from sweeping them in 2012.

No offense, Detroit, but what do you do for birthdays? Cake and dead puppies?

Starting with Game 3 in '06, the Tigers now have lost six consecutive World Series games. Yes, that's happened before to the Tigers, once: In 1907 and 1908, when they lost six consecutive Fall Classic games from game 2 in '07 through Game 2 of '08.

Back then, Ty Cobb was snarling and Sam Crawford was Wahooing.

Saturday, Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, stumbling along at .222 against the Giants with two (count 'em) total bases, dressed quickly and ducked out. Same thing he did following the Game 4 loss in the Division Series against Oakland, when reliever Octavio Dotel strongly advised him in the middle of the clubhouse in Spanish that the team's main horse needs to stand up and face the music.

Instead, Cabrera, for the second time in the postseason with the Tigers in a bind, fled the scene and left his teammates to do the singing. Saturday night's all right for alighting.

"You've got to create more than one situation to win a game," Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks explained.

"I do the best I can," said pitcher Anibal Sanchez, whose two runs allowed over seven innings should have at least given Detroit a chance.

The Tigers now are 1-7 in their past eight World Series games. And for three games now, it's been rerun season.

Against the Cardinals in '06, they batted a scuffling .199 with a .246 on-base percentage.

Against the Giants, they're batting an abhorrent .165 with a .216 on-base percentage.

The bar already was set way low coming off of their last World Series appearance.

These Tigers, in what damn near is an impossibility, are dragging it down even lower.

"We just have not been able to get on the boards, run-wise," manager Jim Leyland said.

They have been blanked for 18 consecutive innings. They have scored in just two of 27 innings against the Giants.

Put up, or shut out.

All credit to the Giants, who are chainsaw-ing their way through the Tigers like 25 Paul Bunyans. But right now the 2012 and 2006 World Series are two of the worst in recent memory. There is one common denominator, and it isn't the Giants or the Cardinals.

"It's kind of tough," said infielder Ramon Santiago, one of three Tigers whose fingerprints are all over the scene of the '06 and '12 crimes (Justin Verlander and Omar Infante being the others). "I don't want to put out excuses. We had a couple of days off and were out of sync.

"Right now, we're better defensively [than in '06], but we don't have a clutch hit yet."

In both instances, the Tigers clinched the AL Championship Series early and waited roughly a week to begin the World Series.

Thinking they were rusty in '06, the Tigers imported a team of their minor leaguers and played a couple of intrasquad games this time. General manager Dave Dombrowski and Leyland both thought going into this World Series that these Tigers were much sharper than six years ago.

As Santiago noted, they have been -- defensively. Their fielding was so bad in '06, particularly that of their pitchers, that their first spring workout in 2007 was mandatory -- for the national media. Scribes that day were taking notes off of silly pitcher's fielding practice as studiously as political reporters record presidential campaigns.

"It's similar, what's happened to us," Infante said of '12 and '06. "We don't have luck. That's important in a short series."

So are a couple of hits in an inning. Every once in awhile. Against these Herculean Giants pitchers, the Tigers have punched more than one hit in just three of 27 innings.

The Giants have become only the second team to open a World Series with three straight wins with starting pitchers earning the victory and allowing no more than one run in each game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, joining the 1937 Yankees.

Prince Fielder is batting .100 (1 for 10) with two strikeouts. Between them, Cabrera and Fielder have zero extra-base hits and three total bases. Really, the power outage is a continuation of this postseason: They've combined for just two homers in 93 at-bats.

In other words, Eddie Brinkman.

It was 2-0 by the second inning Saturday, and it remained that way for the rest of the game. Only thing that changed was, beginning in about the third inning, it felt like 9-0, not 2-0.

Apparently, the only bats worth paying attention to near Halloween in Detroit are the ones that hang upside down and fly.

The only player who has swung one worth a darn in the Tigers' past two World Series appearances was hanging around behind the batting cage with the rest of the media Saturday. Sean Casey, who batted .529 in that '06 World Series, was in the house with MLB Network.

"Casey was raking in the 2006 World Series," Santiago said, eyes becoming larger with the memory, before snapping back to the present. "Our pitchers have been keeping us in games.

"We just don't score runs."

But they sure can ruin a World Series.


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