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Cabrera's homer not enough for Tigers

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Cabrera's homer not enough for Tigers

DETROIT (AP) Miguel Cabrera stood at the plate and watched one last pitch sail by: strike three to end Detroit's season.

The Triple Crown winner had given the Tigers a glimmer of hope with a two-run homer in the third inning, but it wasn't enough. In this series, nothing Detroit did at the plate was enough.

``I think we never found our confidence,'' Cabrera said.

Cabrera struck out looking in the 10th inning Sunday night for the final out in the Tigers' 4-3 loss to San Francisco in Game 4 of the World Series. The Giants completed a four-game sweep for their second championship in three years, bringing a quiet end to Cabrera's marvelous season and Detroit's latest attempt to win its first title since 1984.

After being shut out in Games 2 and 3 and falling behind early in the finale, the Tigers at least mounted one last comeback. Cabrera's wind-blown, two-run drive put Detroit up 2-1 for its first lead of the series. When Buster Posey gave the Giants a 3-2 lead with a sixth-inning homer, Detroit tied it immediately in the bottom half on a solo shot by Delmon Young.

But that was it.

The Tigers wouldn't score again, and the vaunted middle of their batting order wasn't heard from. After a leadoff walk in the eighth, Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Young struck out in succession, and there was a sense that one more San Francisco run would win it.

Marco Scutaro delivered it, singling home the tiebreaking run in the 10th.

``It is unfortunate, but we played as hard as we could. Losing to the World Series champions isn't too bad,'' Fielder said. ``We played good baseball, but they just beat us. We had a great season to get to the playoffs, and we played well to get to the World Series. You just don't get to write your own script.''

On one pitch in the eighth Fielder ducked back from one of Jeremy Affeldt's breaking balls, only to have the ball drop over the plate.

``He was excellent. He was pretty nasty,'' Fielder said. ``You have to tip your cap.''

The final pitch of the game to Cabrera looked hittable - but Detroit looked out of synch offensively from the start in this series.

``I didn't think he was going to throw the fastball,'' Cabrera said quietly. ``But he got me with it.''

Between this year and 2006, the Tigers have now lost seven consecutive World Series games. That's one off the record of eight, set most recently by the Atlanta Braves in 1996 and 1999, according to STATS, LLC.

``If somebody told me in spring training that we would be in the World Series, I would have had to say I'll take that,'' Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. ``It was kind of a weird way that we got there because we were a little inconsistent all year, then we played pretty well when we had to, to get the division, and we obviously played pretty good through the first two rounds of playoffs.''

After sweeping the New York Yankees in the AL championship series, never trailing in their four games, the AL Central champion Tigers hit .159 in the World Series. They went hitless and struck out eight times in the last four innings Sunday.

The average is the third lowest in World Series history, above only the 1969 Orioles (.146) and 1966 Dodgers (.142), according to STATS.

``I'm a little bit flabbergasted to be honest with you,'' Leyland said. ``In both of those series, I never would have thought that we would have swept the New York Yankees, and I never would have thought that the Giants would have swept us, but it happened. It's a freaky game.''

If Detroit been able to manage a win, the Tigers would have sent ace Justin Verlander to the mound for Game 5 with a chance to send the series back to San Francisco.

``You fight as a family for eight months, so it is really difficult to have it end like this,'' Verlander said. ``We can tell ourselves that we were the best team in the American League, and that's a great achievement, but we aren't the best team in the world. That was our goal, and that didn't happen.''

Fielder, the $214 million acquisition who was brought in to give the Tigers a better shot at that elusive championship, went 1 for 14 in the Series. He hit just .173 with one homer and three RBIs in the postseason, including 1 for 25 (.040) against righties.

``For us to play like we did against this great club, I couldn't be prouder of these guys,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Now Detroit will have to come back next year and try again to reward owner Mike Ilitch with a title after his big spending.

``I'm disappointed for Mr. Ilitch. We wanted this bad for him,'' Leyland said. ``But when you've been in the game a long time, somebody wins and somebody loses.''

Tigers starter Max Scherzer gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, struck out eight and walked none. Relievers Drew Smyly, Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke held the Giants off until the 10th, but Detroit could never score the additional run needed to win it before extra innings.

Coke struck out the side in the ninth but gave up the winning hit an inning later.

``I apologize to our fans. I did the best I could and we did the best we could. It just wasn't enough,'' Coke said. ``I'm incredibly proud of this team, and anyone who has a negative thing to say, shame on you. I hate having `LP' (losing pitcher) next to my name in a World Series game, but I did everything I could.''

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Alex Ovechkin touches Prince of Wales Trophy, stupid curses be damned

Alex Ovechkin touches Prince of Wales Trophy, stupid curses be damned

Since the time when people were naming trophies things like "The Prince of Wales Trophy," there have been superstitions about not touching the hardware. Here's the explanation behind it, via Wikipedia:

"A superstition that is prevalent among many of today's NHL players is that no player should either touch or hoist the Wales (Eastern Conference champion) or Clarence S. Campbell (Western Conference champion) Trophies after they have won the conference playoffs; these players feel that the Stanley Cup is the true championship trophy and thus it should be the only trophy that they should be hoisting."

Now, obviously, this is stupid for a thousand different reasons. The Caps just clinched their spot in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years - grab the trophy. 

Alex Ovechkin had no time for century-old superstitions: 

Always remember, curses and superstitions are dumb. Ovechkin knows this, and now you do too. 

MORE CAPITALS: 

Caps headed to Cup: First Cup Final in 20 years
Wilson throws hands: Is not to be messed with
Ovi and the Cup: 13 years in the making

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3 stars of the game: Burakovsky's big night propels Caps to the Stanley Cup Final

3 stars of the game: Burakovsky's big night propels Caps to the Stanley Cup Final

For just the second time in franchise history, the Capitals are Eastern Conference Champions. They will play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup FInal after a dominant 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Alex Ovechkin gave the Capitals the lead just 62 seconds into the game. It was a lead they would never relinquish as Braden Holtby recorded his second consecutive shutout.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final will be Monday in Las Vegas.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Andre Burakovsky: It's been a rough year for Burakovsky, but all that was erased on Wednesday with his brilliant two-goal performance to lead the Caps.

The Caps were clinging to a 1-0 lead in the second period, but the Lightning were buzzing, outshooting the Caps 8-1. They had all the momentum until Burakovsky stole a bouncing puck from Dan Girardi and fired a quick shot far-side for the beautiful goal.

Burakovsky added a second goal later in the second as John Carlson banked a pass off the boards to launch him on a breakaway. Burakovsky coolly shot it through the open five-hole of Vasilevskiy to make it 3-0.

It's incredible to think that Burakovsky had not recorded a point yet this postseason prior to Game 7, was a healthy scratch for Game 5 and was talking about seeing a sports psychologist over the summer after the morning skate for Game 6.

2. Braden Holtby: The goaltending for much of the series was Andrei Vasilevskiy who led Tampa Bay's comeback in the series with his phenomenal netminding. He was outplayed in the most important games by Holtby, however, who recorded shutouts in both Game 6 and Game 7. The last goal the Lightning scored in the series came 33 seconds into the second period of Game 5. That's 139:27 of continuous play and 60 straight saves for Holtby.

Holtby was phenomenal in Game 7 with big save after big save as the Lightning pushed to tie. His biggest save came in the second period when he denied Alex Killorn on the breakaway. The score was just 2-0 at that point.

This marks just the fifth time a goalie has recorded a shutout in Game 6 and Game 7 in a playoff series.

3. Alex Ovechkin: It took Ovechkin just 62 seconds to put the Capitals ahead and it turned out to be the goal that sent Washington to the Stanley Cup Final. How fitting for it to be Ovechkin to score the game-winner?