Tigers 6, Athletics 0: Brilliant Justin Verlander twirls 4 hit game 5 shutout, sends Tigers into the ALCS

Ezra Shaw - Getty Images

Justin Verlander wills Tigers into the ALCS with a game 5 shutout victory over the A's.


Final - 10.11.2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 0 0 2 0 0 0 4 0 0 6 9 0
Oakland Athletics 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1
WP: Justin Verlander (2 - 0)
LP: Jarrod Parker (0 - 2)

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In a winner take all game 5, Detroit Tigers' starting pitcher Justin Verlander shutout the Oakland Athletics 6-0. The Tigers move on to the ALCS, the A's season ends after a tough 5 game battle.

Verlander allowed just 4 hits, striking out 11 in winning his 2nd game of the ALDS. Jarrod Parker gave up 4 runs and 7 hits, losing for the 2nd time in the series

Austin Jackson fired up what had been a stagnant Tigers' offense with 2 hits, 2 run and 2 RBI. Omar Infante reached base 3 times, scoring twice. The A's...well, the A's had no offense to speak of against a marvelous Verlander.

Can the Tigers bounce back from a heartbreaking, soul-crushing walk off loss? If Justin Verlander has anything to say about it, damn straight the Tigers can.

The 1st inning did not bode well for the Tigers' bats waking up in game 5. Three .300 hitters and Quintin Berry batted against Parker. The only Tiger to get on base was the light hitting number 2 hitter, Berry. His fly ball found the left center field gap for a stand-up double. But Austin Jackson struck out on 3 pitches, Miguel Cabrera grounded out to short and Prince Fielder did the same to 3rd. Berry was stranded.

Verlander got off to a far better start than in game 1, striking out Coco Crisp instead of allowing a home run. After striking out Stephen Drew, Yoenis Cespedes doubled in the same place as Berry, left center. The rookie of the year in a world without Mike Trout was stranded when Seth Smith checked his swing, sending a first pitch come-backer to Verlander. No pitcher's fielding hijinks were involved, Verlander making the easy throw for the 3rd out.

First pitch swinging (ARRRRRGH)., Delmon Young popped up to 3rd. Andy Dirks was the 2nd Tigers' base runner, beating out a one-hopper with 1 out....though replays showed he was out. First pitch swinging (ARRRRRGH)., Jhonny Peralta flew out to center. Alex Avila at the plate, Dirks got himself into scoring position by swiping 2nd base. (Enter usual Dirks has a monstrously thick neck joke here), safe by a neck.

The Tigers squandered another opportunity when Avila went fishing, striking out on a breaking ball out of the zone. Inning over.

The bats had yet to wake up, and even Verlander, great as he is, needs run to win.

2 down in the bottom of the 2nd, Verlander walked Brandon Moss. The first pitch to Derek Norris was a breaking ball in the dirt. Avila smothered it, then threw out Moss trying to advance, running the A's out of the inning instead.

The Tigers put a runner on base for the third consecutive inning, Infante singling to lead off the 3rd. Unlike Moss, Infante was able to advance on a wild pitch, in this case it hit the home plate umpire. Looking like 2011 Jackson for 2 strikes, 2012 Jackson showed up in the nick of time, ripping an RBI double off the wall in left, Infante strolling home to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

Berry was asked to move Jackson over, laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt in order to set the plate for Cabrera. But Parker cleared the plate for him, uncorking a wild pitch, Jackson scoring the 2nd run of the inning. The wild pitch was killer, as Cabrera popped up and Fielder stuck out.

Given a 2-0 lead, Verlander did what aces do, toss a shutdown inning. The A's went down in order in the bottom of the 3rd, the ball never leaving the infield. Verlander stood at 44 pitches through 3 innings, solidly on track to pitch deep into the game.

Unfortunately, the Tigers couldn't add on to their lead, Parker throwing a 1-2-3 4th. Of course, Young struck out on a breaking ball further away from the plate than where I'm setting from it here in Detroit.

Verlander faced the meat of the A's order in the bottom of the 4th. Drew struck out swinging, Cespedes lined out to Jackson, Smith struck out swinging. It was vintage Velrander, who now had 6 strikeouts and 59 pitches thrown.

The Tigers still not working counts, Avila grounded out first pitch swinging for an easy lead off out int he 5th. After friend of BYB David Tokarz went nuts on Twitter threatening to walk to Oakland and kick Tiger ass if they didn't start working counts, Infante...walked!

Infante swiped 2nd base, but Jackson couldn't recreate the events of the 3rd inning, striking out. Hoping against hope Berry would do what he does best, take a few pitches and make Parker work...it didn't happen. Berry pulled a Delmon Young instead, popping up on the first pitch. The pop up would have been well into in the stands at Comerica. But the O.co has mile upon mile of foul territory, Josh Donaldson able to make the catch, stranding Infante.

Young-itis was contagious. The first 2 A's in the 5th went down on 3 pitches. Moss woke the crowd up with a 2 out single to left, their first hit since the 1st inning. 2 strikes on Norris, he called for time just as Verlander started his windup. After home plate ump Wally Bell didn't give him a called strike 3, a visibly peeved Verlander struck out Norris swinging.

The Tigers had the middle of the order coming to the plate in the 6th. Cabrera, first pitch swinging, grounded out 5-3. Was Cabrera pressing, trying to make something big happen on every swing? The answer has to be a resounding YES. Fielder, also trying to do too much, popped up on an eye high breaking ball.

Shockingly, Young singled, the inning remaining alive. Dirks popped up for the 3rd out. At least he worked the count to 3-2 beforehand. But he also swung at ball 4...so, yeah.

The bottom of the 6th started with Martinez talking up the A's having "personalities" as cameras panned the O.co, showing what looked like Raider Nation, just wearing green and white instead of silver and black.

With 1 down in the 6th, Verlander had to battle past Crisp, who would ground out on a tough 7 pitch at bat. Crisp was perturbed, to say the very least. Not wanting to face Cespedes with a runner on base, Verlander struck out Drew on 3 pitches, the 8th K of the evening.

Peralta led off the 7th with a single off the glove of a diving Donaldson. Amazingly, on what was supposed to be a hit and run with Avila, Peralta stole 2nd base, the Tigers' 3rd swipe of the night. You knew it was the Tigers' night when the lead-footed Peralta steals a base.

Avila struck out on a 3-2 pitch for the 1st out. But Infante, having a solid post season, singled to right, just clearing a leaping Cliff Pennington. Being the leap froze Peralta for a second and Gene Lamont knowing patience is the better part of valor (and that Peralta is sloooow), the runner was held at 3rd.

A's manager Bob Melvin had Ryan Cook warming up as the inning was taking a turn for the worse. Jackson due to bat, Melvin made to call for Cook, hoping for a strikeout. Jackson foiled the strategy, ripping a line shot RBI single past (again) a leaping Pennington. Peralta scored the Tigers' 3rd run, Infante hook sliding into 3rd.

Cook walked Berry on 4 pitches, bringing up the Triple Crown winner with 1 out and the bases loaded. Cook quickly got ahead of Cabrera 0-2, then made a huge mistake, plunking him on the elbow with a fastball. Give Cabrera a hit by pitch and RBI, and the Tigers a 4-0 lead.

Unable to get an out, Cook was yanked with Fielder due to bat. Lefty Jerry Blevins was called on to face the big man. Once again Crisp was burned on a bloop. Fooled by Fielder's big swing and already playing in Petaluma, Crisp took a step back before breaking in, which was just enough to allow the Texas Leaguer to drop. The runners moved station to station, Jackson crossing the plate, Tiger now up 5-0.

Blevins was left in the game to face Young. His line drive off the glove of Drew was scored E-6, scoring Berry for the 4th run of the inning and 6th of the game.

Blevins got out of the inning on a Dicks 3-2 fielder's choice and Peralta ground out. But the Tigers had broken open a close game, sending 10 batters to the plate, scoring 4 runs on 4 hits, an error and a hit by pitch.

If there was any concern going into the bottom of the 7th, it was Verlander having to sit for a good 30 minutes and facing Cespedes as the lead off man. It was a short at bat, Cesspedes popped up. Avila and Feidler converged on the ball, Avila bailing out as Fielder stabbed the pop up out of the air for the 1st out.

Verlander wasn't messing around. Smith struck out looking on a wicked breaking ball for the 2nd out. Reddick was dead meat, out looking on a mere 3 pitches, Verlander's 97th of the night.

Ace, indeed.

At the start of the 8th the Coliseum near silent, save fro a few die-hards trying to get rally chants going. The Tigers went down in order against reliever Evan Scribner.

The offense back in a slumber, rhe game was now riding completely on the arm of Verlander. To drive the point home, not a soul was stirring in the Tigers' scarily inconsistent bullpen.

Verlander took the mound in the bottom of the 8th, needing 6 outs to move the Tigers onto the next round. Of course, Martinez called the A's "Comeback kids." As if on cue, Donaldson singled on a belt high fastball, the 4th A's hit of the game.

Moss was out on a 3 pitch at bat, sending a can of corn to Jackson. 1 out, 5 to go.

Johnny Gomes had yet to make an appearance in the series due the Tigers' being overloaded with right handed pitchers. He made his first appearance of the series pinch hitting for Norris. Verlander ate him up. Gomes sent a can of corn to Berry for out number 2.

4 to go.

Pennington kept the inning alive, singling to right. But Crisp wasn't nearly so pesky in this at bat, bouncing to Infante after 2 pitches.

All beat writer reports on Twitter claimed Verlander had not received the "Handshake of Doom" from Jim Leyland as he entered the dugout. At 111 pitches, there really wasn't a need and no one wanted to see the Tigers' bullpen after last night.

Top of 9, the Tigers went down in order against Scrivner. The game in hand, it was a truly anticlimactic half inning of waiting for Verlander.. The only suspense left in the game revolved around Verlander getting the shutout everyone wanted to see

On to the bottom of the 9th. .

Verlander had dominated Drew all night long, this at bat was no different. The A's shortstop struck out for a 4th time, earning a golden sombrero.

1 out, 2 to go.

The always worrisome Cespedes grounded out 6-3.

2 out, 1 to go.

The A's final hope was one of the A's game 4 heroes, Smith. It was fait accompli. Smith meekly grounded out 4-3.

3 outs!

Game over!

Cue Verlander and Avila bear hugging in the middle of the infield!

Doesn't the drama of the past 24 hours feel a tad unwarranted now? As a fan base, we need to remember 4 words: "In Verlander we trust."

Justin Verlander did what big game pitchers do. In a must win game, Verlander put the Tigers on his back and carried them to the ALCS.

Hell, I'm about out of superlatives, Verlander was that damn good.

BULLETS:

Bullets are brought to you by the annoying suspenders and cap wearing hipster in the Samsung ad (Which Turner Networks run 10 times a game) who can't wait for the "big sceeeeen" on the iPhone 5. I want to walk up to him and slap the Kangol off his hipster noggin and hand him a freaking flip phone.

The_big_screeeeeen_medium

  • The Tigers win the ALDS in 5 games, move on to the ALCS. The other divisional series, Yankees - Orioles, is headed to a game 5. Which means the Tigers won't know where they'll be playing on Saturday until sometime Friday night. If the wild card O's win, game 1 will be in Detroit. If the Yankees win, the Tigers are headed to the Big Apple.
  • After Quintin Berry was left stranded in the 1st, Tigers were 5-for-25 (.200) with four RBI in the ALDS with runners in scoring position. Things changed for the better as the game proceeded. The Tigers finally put up a crooked number in an inning for the first time since game 2 with their 4 run 7th.
  • Just 2 innings into the game, TBS' Buck Martinez brought up the A's wanting Miguel Cabrera batting with bases empty, raising Justin Verlander's pitch count and playing different positions. EVERYBODY DRINK! For the teetotalers, that's a BINGO!
  • Martinez: "It's easy to have ugly batting averages because of the pitchers you're facing." Or, you know, maybe the low number of at bats in a short series?
  • The TBS booth complained their pitch tracking showed Verlander was getting strike calls on pitches outside the zone. Hell, it rarely matched up all series long and they finally noticed in the 2nd inning of game 5. TBS pitch tracking and the actual strike zone existed in 2 differing realities. The other explanation being Verlander being Verlander, he gets the benefit of the doubt from umpires, as all superstars do.
  • I normally rail on early game bunting, as I despise bunting. But in the 2nd inning of game 5, trying to extend a lead to 2-0 with Verlander on the mound...I can live with it. And just as in game 4, it worked. Don't make it a habit, though!
  • TBS booth after Delmon Young struck out: "What a wild swing!" Welcome to the world of Tigers' fandom, guys. We've seen that God awful swing on an outside breaking ball hundreds of times...and in out nightmares.
  • Cliff Pennington stumbled around with a Jhonny Peralta ground ball in the 4th, yet still threw him out with ease. Which got me to wondering what things are slower than Jhonny Peralta....and I'm still trying to think of something. Of course, Peralta stole 2nd base in the 7th, shocking everybody, including the A's and your friendly recapper.
  • For that matter, I tried to think of things more annoying than Buck Martinez. I could only come up with Delmon Young plate appearances and Tim McCarver.
  • Best way to quiet a large crowd? Call on Verlander. The O.co was nuts through 6 innings. After the Tigers scored 4 times and Verlander had a 1-2-3 7th, the crowd was no longer a real factor.
  • Verlander became the first Tigers' pitcher since Jack Morris in 1984 to win 2 games in a playoff series. The ace tossed the first playoff shutout since Coleman (against teh A's) in 1972. He also set a record of 22 strikeouts in a division series. Verlander is only the 16th pitcher in history to strikeout 11 in a playoff shutout. Honestly, I'm sure there are more records Verlander tied or broke.
  • A's fans booed as the Tigers celebrated on the field. Regardless, the A's had a great season and were a very, very difficult team to beat.
  • When asked about Jim Leyland taking him out of the game by Pedro Gomez, this quote from Verlander says volumes: "No, he knew better."
  • Leyland agreed: "He had a complete game look in his eye."
  • This series will finally quiet the "Fire Leyland" brigade. We can hope so, anyway.

SCREEN CAPS:

Injured Giants closer Brian Wilson has a twin who is an A's fan.

Wilson_medium

Omar Infante hadn't taken the bat off his shoulder. Now look at the count, then look at the TBS pitch tracking. Either the ump is insane or TBS has a software virus.

Pitch_tracking_medium

Verlander knows his job is done.

Over_medium

3 ROARS:

Justin Verlander: I think the silly question "Is Verlander a big game pitcher?" has been answered in this series. There was no doubt he was the Tigers' MVP of the ALDS,

Austin Jackson: Cabrera and Fielder having quiet games, someone else had to step up. Not surprisingly it was Jackson. His RBI double in the 3rd was the big hit of the game.

Omar Infante: Played a big part in offense, reaching base 3 times, scoring 2 runs and playing flawless defense. Infante is a completely different player, compared to the 2nd baseman who was completely lost with the bat and glove a few weeks ago.

1 HISS:

Buck Martinez: Guess what? TBS has the ALDS too!

ALDS GAME 4 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

In a fit of pique at 2 AM Thursday morning, I added "NOT Jose Valverde" to the PotG poll. Apparently you all were as frustrated as I was, as "NOT Jose Valverde" won the poll in a walk...or more correctly, walk off.

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