For first time, Tigers swept out of opening round

By Tom Gage and Tony Paul, The Detroit News

Detroit -- The Tigers are a proud franchise.

Never once had they been swept in the first round of the postseason.

That streak came to an abrupt end Sunday at Comerica Park, where they lost, 2-1, to the Baltimore Orioles, who won an American League Division Series for the first time since 1997.

"It's disappointing," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, softly, after the loss. "You feel like you let the fans down and you feel like you let the organization down. You feel like you let the Ilitches down.

"But there is nothing we can do about it now."

This was the Tigers' 16th appearance in baseball's playoffs. Their last four times they advanced to at least the second round.

And never had they lost all the games in an opening series.

There is an asterisk on that streak. The Tigers first playoff appearance came in 1907, when teams when right from winning the league into the World Series. The Tigers played the Cubs.

The teams played to extra innings at West Side Grounds in Chicago. With the game tied in the 12th, it was called because of darkness. This was long before teams had lights, and much longer before the Cubs had lights.

After the tie, the Cubs went on to win the next four games, winning the series 4-0-1.

The Cubs also beat the Tigers in the 1908 World Series, for their most recent championship.

The only teams never been swept out of the opening round: the Blue Jays, Brewers, Mariners, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Rays and Rockies. Most of those teams' histories are much shorter than that of the Tigers, a charter member of the American League.

The Nationals are in danger of joining the Tigers off that list, as they are down 2-0 to the Giants in the National League.

"A week ago we were celebrating, and now we're going home," catcher Alex Avila said, his voice low, after having to watch the end of the game from the trainer's room. "That's the thing. That happens that fast once you get in the playoffs."

But for the Tigers, it never had happened before. To the dismay of a city, now it has.

Joba's future

Joba Chamberlain also does not know what the future holds. There is certainly no guarantee he will be back, either.

But he spoke highly of his first, and maybe only, season with the Tigers.

"This team is very special to me, and I can't thank them enough," he said. "This game is fun, but having these guys around made it extremely fun.

"Getting to know these guys made it a very special year for me. This year had its ups and downs (on the field), but that's life — and it's also the game of baseball.

"I'm just thankful for the chance this team gave me to try and help them win. I did my best. I left it on the field every time for this team and these fans."

Scherzer's future

"Hopefully there's a way we can continue to play together," potential free agent Max Scherzer said.

"But we just lost a very tough series and it's real hard for me to project what's going to happen in the future. The only thing is I know is that I love being in this clubhouse and I hope that I will be back."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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