Jose Iglesias couldn't handle this Jacoby Ellsbury grounder up the middle. The error preceded Shane Victorino's grand slam. (Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News)
Detroit — If you’re angry and you know it, clap your hands.
Then again, that might sound like applause for the Tigers — and while any team that loses in a League Championship Series has supposedly accomplished something in just getting there, the Tigers were never going to be satisfied in just getting there.
This was a team built to do more than to have already exited.
This was a team built to win.
And a team that thought it could win.
When it was feeling really confident about itself, it even thought it would win.
But it didn’t.
So what went wrong?
Well, you know what went individually wrong. Miguel Cabrera played hurt, Prince Fielder didn’t produce — and some of the players who often pick up the sluggers with timely hits when the big boys aren’t getting them, players such as Omar Infante, didn’t do it this time.
As with any stats, though, you can mold them into making any point you want. For instance, the Tigers won only one of five ALCS games started by their big three starters, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez.
Are you blaming them, though? Probably not when the lack of hitting sticks out like a sorer thumb.
But you have to remember that despite what the Tigers were doing wrong or right, and despite who wasn’t hitting and who was, they made it a best-of-three series by winning Game 4 at home.
That doesn’t mean they had the Sox where they wanted. There are two more preferable scenarios after four games than being tied at two wins each.
You can have already won a best-of-seven series by then or be up 3-1. But deadlocked after four while still being at home isn’t exactly a predicament.
So that’s why, despite what you want to pick apart in Game 6, and there’s plenty to pick at, it was the first four innings of Game 5 from which the Tigers never really bounced back.
Let’s take a look at those innings again.
Everything that cost the Tigers the ALCS — from bad base-running, to the lack of hitting, to the wrong pitch at the wrong time — took place in the first four innings of Game 5. True, they had that huge base-running blunder in Game 6, one that won’t soon be forgotten.
But at that point, the Tigers were scrambling to pull even with the Sox again. Survival was at stake compared to being in position to take an advantage back to Boston.
Talk about a package of blunders, though. The mess of Game 5 had it all.
In the first inning, Miguel Cabrera ran through a stop sign at third, but never should have been waved in the first place.
As hurt as he was, the running game for Cabrera had to be base to base, but wasn’t.
There went a chance to grab a first-inning lead.
Mike Napoli’s 460-foot home run to lead off the top of the second was how the Sox responded to the blunder with thunder — displaying the kind of power the Tigers couldn’t consistently counter.
“They hit a couple of big bombs,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We didn’t quite do that.
Cabrera followed Napoli’s home run with an error at third, followed an out later by a three-hit sequence for two more Red Sox runs — underscoring the fact that the Tigers didn’t have enough strung-together hits.
Jose Iglesias made his fantastic catch of David Ortiz’s pop-up in the third, but the play merely served as a contrast — for it was Iglesias who made a crucial error on a possible double-play ball in the seventh inning Saturday night before Shane Victorino’s grand slam.
It was also in the third inning that the Red Sox scored their all-important fourth run of Game 5 on a wild pitch by Sanchez.
Overall, though, Leyland was pleased with the pitching.
“If you pitch the way we pitched in this series,” he said, “you would probably think you had won.”
One last point: In the fourth inning of Game 5, the Tigers wasted a scoring chance with an inning-ending double-play — the first of the three inning-ending double plays that sabotaged any bid to tie the game.
Or to take the lead.
The entire ALCS turned on how the Tigers came undone in their last game at home. They put themselves in a 4-0 hole from which they couldn’t climb.
Their 2-1 edge in the seventh inning of Game 6 was far more fragile in comparison.
That’s why they’re done for the year.