American League Game Summary - Detroit at Oakland|
(Thursday, October 10th)
Final Score: Detroit 3, Oakland 0
Oakland, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Justin Verlander watched the ball skip into
center field, walked to the back of the mound and clapped his glove together,
calling for it back.
His no-hit bid broken up by Yoenis Cespedes' two-out single in the seventh
inning, Verlander went back to work.
"I can usually tell by the look on his face and his demeanor prior to a game
when he's zeroed in and locked in," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, "and he
was locked in tonight."
Verlander gave up just two hits in eight shutout innings Thursday night and
Detroit beat the Oakland Athletics 3-0 to reach the American League
Championship Series for the third straight year.
Game 5 of the ALDS was a rematch of Game 2, but this time Verlander (1-0) got
the better of A's rookie Sonny Gray.
Miguel Cabrera's first home run in more than three weeks -- a two-run shot in
the fourth off Gray (0-1) -- was all the offense Detroit needed with Verlander
on the mound.
He gave up just two singles, throwing 76 of his 111 pitches for strikes while
fanning 10 and walking one.
After getting two outs in the ninth, Joaquin Benoit gave up a double to Jed
Lowrie and hit Cespedes to bring up the tying run, but Seth Smith flied out to
end the game.
The Tigers won two straight games to reach the ALCS for the fourth time in
eight years. They are the first team to make three straight ALCS appearances
since the Yankees won four straight AL pennants from 1998-2001.
They will face the Red Sox on the road in Game 1 Saturday night at Fenway Park
Verlander clinched the ALCS berth for Detroit for the second season in a row
against the A's. In Game 5 last year, Verlander struck out 11 in a four-hit
shutout and the Tigers won 6-0.
He had 11 strikeouts again in seven innings in Game 2 on Saturday, but Gray
fanned nine over eight frames and the A's won the game in the ninth inning.
Verlander was perfect through 5 1/3 innings until he threw four straight balls
to Josh Reddick after going up 0-2 in the sixth.
Reddick also singled off Verlander in the eighth -- an offensive outburst in
Gray was charged with all three Detroit runs in five-plus innings, giving up
six hits and four walks with three strikeouts. The 23-year-old got the start
over 18-game winner Bartolo Colon, who lost Game 1. It was the seventh time in
their last 10 playoff games the A's started a rookie pitcher.
Gray didn't give up a hit until the fourth, but he wasn't Verlander's equal
The A's lost for the 12th time in their last 13 potential clinching games in
the playoffs. They were knocked out of the postseason by the Tigers for the
third time in a row -- a stretch that also includes the 2006 ALCS.
Bob Melvin, who managed the AL West-champion A's to 96 wins, said he expected
to go deeper in the playoffs than this. Beating Detroit twice with Verlander
as the starter turned out to be too much to ask for.
"He was on it early. We weren't getting very good swings on him," said Melvin.
"I thought maybe when it started to get darker, we would get better swings,
but he kept throwing fastballs."
"We're just trying to get him in the stretch," Melvin said. "Our fans were
just waiting for a reason to get into a frenzy."
Easier said than done.
There have only been two no-hitters in MLB postseason history: Don Larsen's
perfect game for the Yankees against Brooklyn in Game 5 of the 1956 World
Series, and Roy Halladay's no-hitter for the Phillies against Cincinnati in
Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS.
Verlander has two career no-hitters in the regular season and numerous other
brushes. Thursday night looked a lot like those other games: Verlander in
control of his pitches, including a hard fastball and dipping curve. One of
the curveballs was so enticing, Lowrie fouled it off with a check swing
despite the ball bouncing well in front of the plate.
That was in the seventh, when Lowrie worked a seven-pitch at-bat, fouling off
six straight before flying out. Two pitches later, Cespedes hit a 1-0 fastball
up the middle to break up the no-hitter. Verlander responded by striking out
Smith on four pitches.
He fanned Stephen Vogt after Reddick hit a two-out single in the eighth, then
watched as Lowrie doubled off Benoit and Cespedes was hit in the abdomen by a
pitch before the Detroit closer got Smith to fly out.
Verlander has put a down regular season (for him) behind him after going 13-12
with a 3.46 ERA for the AL Central champions.
"I'm pitching the way I'm supposed to," he said. "I worked my butt off all
year to try to get consistent and get myself where I needed to be. I feel like
it finally paid off at the end of the year. It wasn't easy. It was a battle
for me all year long. But I felt like I was finally able to make a couple of
adjustments that I was able to make and get myself to be more consistent."
He had five strikeouts in the first three innings. In the fifth, he ran a 3-2
count on Smith in an eight-pitch at-bat that ended in a grounder. If shortstop
Jhonny Peralta hadn't been playing Smith up the middle, it might have been the
closest thing the A's had to a hit up to that point.
Alberto Callaspo hit a sharp grounder down the first base line leading off the
sixth, but Prince Fielder was right there. Verlander then walked Reddick, who
tagged and went to second on Vogt's long fly ball to center. But Coco Crisp
flied out to left to end the inning.
Torii Hunter's one-out single in the fourth inning was the first hit off Gray.
Cabrera then lined a 94 mph fastball over the left field wall for his first
home run since Sept. 17, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers loaded the bases with two outs, but Gray escaped the jam on an Omar
Infante grounder. Gray put two runners on in the fifth but got out of the
inning without allowing a run.
After giving up back-to-back singles to Victor Martinez and Peralta to start
the sixth, Gray was pulled for Dan Otero. One of the runners scored after
back-to-back force plays, making it 3-0 Detroit.
The Red Sox beat the Rays in four games in the other ALDS ... In the first
inning, Gray struck out leadoff hitter Austin Jackson for the fifth straight
time in the series ... Verlander's no-hitters came June 12, 2007 against
Milwaukee and May 7, 2011 at Toronto ... Max Scherzer, Detroit's 21-game
winner, won Game 1 last Friday and threw two innings for the win in Game 4 on
Tuesday, so giving Verlander the nod Thursday was a no-brainer for the Tigers.
10/11 00:56:26 ET