(Reuters) - The Detroit Tigers got great starting pitching as expected but a lack of power-hitting and late-inning bullpen failures foiled their bid to beat the Boston Red Sox and claw their way back to the World Series.
"They deserve to be the representative," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland, whose 2012 Tigers team was swept in the World Series by the San Francisco Giants.
"They beat us, I wish them the best. They played well and there were a lot of good games. Collectively, start with me, the coaches, the players, we just didn't do quite enough."
Max Scherzer, who led Major League Baseball with 21 wins in the regular season, left the mound in the seventh inning with two men on and Detroit leading 2-1. But reliever Jose Veras gave up a grand slam to Shane Victorino to turn the game around and give Boston a 4-2 triumph in the league championship series.
"I wish we had played better as a team," Scherzer said. "We fought so hard to get to this position and we came up short. They were the better team in this series."
Scherzer left Game Two with a 5-1 lead, but a grand slam home run by David Ortiz off Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit helped the Red Sox seize a 6-5 victory.
While Boston bats produced in the clutch, the Tigers one-two power punch of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder were defused. Fielder failed to drive in a single run in the series.
Fellow starting pitcher Justin Verlander tried to look on the bright side of Detroit's accomplishments.
"This is our third year in a row coming this far. To not be able to win it all, it hurts," he said. "(But) It's also our third year in a row getting this far, it's pretty impressive in and of itself."
Torii Hunter, a 17-year veteran who signed with Detroit before the season in hopes of reaching his first World Series, took the defeat hard.
"We just couldn't get the job done. We made a couple of mistakes and they just capitalized on them," he said. "We gave them a lot of chances. We made mistakes. You make mistakes that's what happens in the postseason, they're magnified."
The Boston bullpen also outclassed their Detroit counterparts throughout the series, led by their closer Koji Uehara, the series MVP.
"We had a good season, we just couldn't come through in the end," Hunter added about the AL Central champions.
"I think that we're going to make some adjustments in the off-season. I think we have areas where we can make ourselves better. I expect to be right back in this position next year."
Writing by Larry Fine. Editing by Patrick Johnston