Tigers reflect on 2015 home campaign

Tigers reflect on 2015 home campaign

DETROIT -- The opponent was the same, but the circumstances couldn't have been more different.

In 2014, the Tigers clinched their fourth consecutive American League Central title on the final day of the regular season at Comerica Park. Sunday, Detroit fell to Minnesota, 7-1, giving the club 43 home losses, its most since 2004.

"There's no question as I was coming up the stairs [to the clubhouse], it was different," said manager Brad Ausmus. "In my mind, I was thinking back a year ago, when we were coming up the stairs and getting ready to dump champagne on each other. That's a much better feeling."

Whereas left-hander David Price and second baseman Ian Kinsler led the Tigers to a shutout victory in the final regular-season home game last season, the 2015 home campaign ended more quietly -- with midseason acquisition Randy Wolf on the mound and stars Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez pinch-hit for in the late innings.

Still, many of the announced crowd of 33,517 fans gave the Tigers a warm round of applause after outfielder Josh Wilson made the final out.

"They have the right to be mad," said first baseman Martinez. "They do. They spend a lot of money to come watch the games. They have a lot of expectations, too. But at the same time, there is nobody -- nobody -- that wants to win more than we do."

While Ausmus and general manager Al Avila pointed to a bevy of high-profile injuries -- to Martinez, Justin Verlander and Cabrera, among others -- as potential causes of the Tigers' struggles, the veteran said the disappointing season will teach players a lesson about expecting success.

"One thing to remember: What we've done over the last four years, that is not easy by any means," said catcher Alex Avila. "You can make it look easy, but it's not. Not many teams can do that.

"We were going for a fifth [AL Central title]. That's pretty special. Unfortunately, we weren't able to do it this year."

Alejandro Zúñiga is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByAZuniga. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.