Quick end is microcosm of season for talented team that never overcame flaws

DETROIT -- The eighth inning came Sunday without any participation from the Tigers’ bullpen — much to the delight of an emotionally brittle baseball town still enraged at the abomination in Baltimore. David Price did his job in Game 3, keeping manager Brad Ausmus from walking out of the dugout and motioning to the bullpen.

But momentarily filling one hole exposed another.

That’s how history will critique the 2014 Tigers.

Opportunity wasted.

The Tigers’ season ended in a 2-1 whimper. Until the Martinez boys ripped back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the ninth, their last hit came in the third inning. The end proved indicative of the entire season. A good though genuinely flawed team never attained the consistency necessary for winning it all because they were constantly attempting to plug gaps.

“This season physically burned me out,” Torii Hunter said. “I don’t think that I’ve gone through another season like this. The comparison I used was that a car that’s running smoothly uses all of its cylinders in precision. But with us, we couldn’t get that precision. One cylinder would be firing but the other two wouldn’t. And then it would flip to the other side. And you know what happens then? The engine burns out.”

Perhaps the perfect metaphor for what will be remembered as the Motor City Meltdown.

“That’s a fair analysis,” said Max Scherzer. “I know what you’re saying, and it’s true. But this is a talented team and it was our responsibility to make sure we played with that consistency. It stinks that we couldn’t do that.”

Read more of Drew Sharp's column in the Detroit Free Press.

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