Nothing spells heartbreak for the Oakland A’s quite like Justin Verlander in October. For the second straight year, the Detroit Tigers right-hander took the Coliseum mound, spun his Game 5 dominance and sent the A’s packing for the offseason. Verlander blanked Oakland over eight innings and Detroit beat Oakland 3-0 in the deciding game of the American League Division Series.
His outing fell a day shy of the one-year anniversary of his shutout in last year’s Game 5 of the ALDS at the Coliseum, when he threw a four-hitter. This time he allowed just two hits over eight innings, struck out 10 and walked one, taking a perfect game into the sixth and a no-hitter into the seventh.
Verlander moved to 4-0 in five postseason starts against the A’s and ran his playoff scoreless streak against Oakland to 30 innings. He’s allowed just five runs and struck out 49 in 36 1/3 innings against the A’s in his postseason career.
Looking at the bigger picture, the A’s couldn’t exorcise their Game 5 demons that extend back more than a decade. They are 0-6 in the fifth game of the ALDS dating back to 2000. They are now 1-12 in their past 13 potential series-clinching games.
When the A’s ponder this series over the winter, they’ll likely look back at a Game 4 in which they held 3-0 and 4-3 leads in Detroit and couldn’t close out the series. The Tigers will advance to play the Boston Red Sox in the AL Championship series, which begins Saturday at Fenway Park.
The Tigers scored the only runs they would need on Miguel Cabrera’s two-run homer off A’s rookie Sonny Gray in the top of the fourth.
Down 3-0, the A’s put two men on in the ninth against Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit. But Seth Smith, representing the tying run, flied out to right field to end it.
- Joe Stiglich, CSN Bay Area