DETROIT -- The Comerica Park crowd had a chance to roar Thursday night when Prince Fielder came to the plate in the fifth and seventh innings of Game 5 of the ALCS against the Red Sox. But each time, Fielder failed to come through -- he grounded to second with a man on first and two outs in the fifth, then grounded to second again with no one on and two outs in the seventh - and cheers quickly turned to jeers for the slumping slugger.
Fielder extended his postseason drought without an RBI to a career-long 65 at-bats and that helped Boston hold on for a 4-3 win and a 3-2 series lead that put the Tigers on the brink of elimination.
"He's had some good at-bats, doesn't have a lot to show for it, and some not so good at-bats," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I know people say, `Well, you keep waiting for it.' I still feel good something big could happen at any time. He's one of those electric guys."
The rotund first baseman doesn't deserve all the blame, but he's going to get a lot of it - especially if Detroit doesn't win the last two games in the best-of-seven series - and he may have boos ringing in his ears from Game 5.
"It isn't pleasant, but they are fans and that's what they do," Fielder said. "They paid to be here."
Tigers owner Mike Ilitch gave his okay to sign Fielder to a $214 million, nine-year deal last year to replace the then-injured Victor Martinez, expecting him to produce at the plate.
Fielder simply has not, often swinging early in counts for weak grounders that make fans in the Motor City groan.
"I want to hit homers just as much as everyone wants me to hit homers, but I don't have a magic wand," said Fielder, who has gone 16 games and 53 at-bats since clearing a fence on Sept. 22 against the Chicago White Sox.
Fielder hasn't driven in a run during the postseason in 17-plus games since the opener of the 2012 ALCS against the New York Yankees. The longest RBI drought of his career during the regular season was with the Milwaukee Brewers during a 44 at-bat skid in 2008, according to STATS.