DETROIT Miguel Cabrera stood and watched. The umpire called strike three. The stadium gasped.
And that pretty much tells the tale.
Before a Comerica Park crowd wrapped in hoodies and winter coats, wiping cold rain from its faces, the Tigers gave a last shrug of effort, the way a stabbed bull make its last lunge before collapsing.
And then they expired. The Giants took, earned and absolutely deserved the 2012 crown. The Tigers were only in this World Series the way a hostage is in a closet, a muffled noise from behind a locked door.
"We got beat," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "They're the world champions, and they deserve to be the world champions."
The good news is the Tigers took a lead for the first time in this World Series. The bad news is it lasted two innings. As Leyland said, tip your cap to the Giants and while your head is bare, scratch it while pondering Detroit. A team that at times seemed to burst through its clothing like the Incredible Hulk could not escape its own wrapping paper in this Fall Classic.
For all but a few moments in this Series, the Tigers were a corked bottle, a dammed-up river, glue in a drain. Nothing flowed. Nothing came through.
Cabrera gave them a brief lead Sunday with his first home run of the Series, but by the time he had his next at-bat, the Tigers were losing.
Finally, in the 10th inning, Phil Coke who insisted the night before "there's no quit in any of us" surrendered a single to Ryan Theriot, a perfect bunt to Brandon Crawford, then, one batter later, a single to (who else?) Marco Scutaro. Theriot raced home. The throw from Austin Jackson wasn't even close.
Neither was the World Series.
Yes, Game 4 was better than the first three, but it was not the coda the Tigers wanted to their season. They still were beaten four in a row by a magic steamroller known as the 2012 Giants.
How else do you explain a team that received exceptional pitching even from its weaker pitchers, amazing defense from guys you never heard of and timely hitting from every spot in the lineup? They go home champions. There's nobody left to play.
Tip your hat. Scratch your head. The Tigers picked a bad time to stop hitting. A team that has been plagued with waves of ineffective bats was plagued again at the worst moment, like a pimple on prom night, or a sick stomach on an overseas flight.
The Tigers lost their Series games by the following scores: 8-3, 2-0, 2-0, 4-3. When you look back on it, you land on several "what if?" moments.
What if Justin Verlander doesn't get that visit from pitching coach Jeff Jones in Game 1, then throw the next pitch for a two-run homer to Pablo Sandoval?
What if Prince Fielder doesn't try to score on Delmon Young's double in Game 2?
What if Miguel Cabrera doesn't pop up with the bases loaded in Game 3?
What if Jhonny Peralta's long fly ball in Game 4 goes a few more feet, into the seats, instead of into Gregor Blanco's glove?
Ah, well. Playing "what if" is like trying to hold back the rain. The fact is, the Giants outplayed the Tigers.