Judging by the box scores of the two first games, one would think the Reds did reach the World Series after all. The stats of one of the clubs playing in the fall classic are eerily similar to those typical of the 2012 Reds, who were eliminated after losing three games at home in the National League Division Series.
The Tigers, who trail the series against San Francisco two games to none, are just one for seven with runners in scoring position. They have left eight men on base, suffering from the same lack of clutch hitting that finally sank Cincinnati in the postseason.
Also, the Tigers have struck out a Reds-like 17 times in the two games, both against left-handed starters. Even with Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and free-agent acquisition Prince Fielder in the middle of the lineup, Detroit has been unable to score consistently.
Detroit has also made poor baserunning decisions, similar to the ones that exacerbated Cincinnati's first round exit against San Francisco. The Tigers have had one player caught stealing, but even costlier was Fielder getting thrown out at home with no one out in a scoreless game two.
Manager Jim Leyland has shown excessive patience with his ace, much like the patience that allowed Cincinnati's Dusty Baker to leave his starters in despite their obvious struggles. Leyland refused to pull Justin Verlander in the opener, even after the Giants had racked up four runs by the third inning.
Granted, the first inning home run by Pablo Sandoval was Verlander's only blemish for the first two innings. But in the third, it became obvious that the Cy Young award winner did not have good stuff. San Francisco rocked him for four consecutive hits in the third, including another home run by Sandoval.
With Baker-like recalcitrance, Leyland sent Verlander back out for the fourth inning. A walk and another base hit increased the Giants' lead to 5-0, which marked the end for Verlander. One must wonder, though, if Leyland would have run Verlander back out there in the fifth had not the pitcher's spot in the batting order come up.
The fact that the Tigers have shared so many symptoms of the Reds does not bode well for their chances to win the World Series. They have an offense that relies too much on the long ball and the middle of the order, and a lineup that strikes out almost ten times per game.
They also are being led by an aging manager who, except for a star-studded Marlins' team almost two decades ago, has not won a World Series championship.
Doug Poe once delivered newspapers to Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez, three customers who have made him a lifelong fan of the Reds.
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