Justin Verlander and Sonny Gray pitched to a stalemate in their first meeting in the ALDS.
On Thursday, there was no question who got the better of the rematch.
Verlander threw eight dominant innings to lead the Tigers to a 3-0 victory over the A's in the deciding Game 5. Gray was less sharp, giving up six hits and four walks in his five innings of work. He was charged with all three of the Tigers' runs.
Verlander refused to allow any runs, and for the longest time he didn't give up any hits, either. He didn't allow a baserunner until the sixth inning and allowed his first hit with two outs in the seventh. He would only allow one more hit on the night.
It capped a strong ALDS for the right-hander, who finished with 15 innings pitched, 0.53 WHIP, a 21/2 K/BB ratio and a zero -- 0.00, to be exact -- ERA. Verlander has now allowed one run over his last four ALDS starts, a span of 31 innings. And unfortunately for the A's, they've been on the receiving end of all four of those starts.
Aside from Verlander, the other big story from the game was Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera, who was 4-for-16 with just one RBI and no extra-base hits coming into the game, took a Gray fastball deep for a two-run homer in the fourth inning. It was his first home run since September 17, and he slugged just .333 for the final month of the season while dealing with hip and abdominal injuries.
Cabrera likely won't be 100 percent for the remainder of the postseason, but he's obviously feeling well enough that he can still get into one. His batting line going forward will have a big impact on how far the Tigers can go in these playoffs.
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Machado Chooses Surgery
After originally opting for rest and rehab, Manny Machado on Thursday decided to instead have surgery on his injured left knee.
Machado hurt the knee running to first base during a game on September 23, and initially he decided to forego surgery on the recommendation of team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens and the renowned Dr. James Andrews. It was only after he received more opinions from other doctors and knee specialists that he decided to have the surgery.
"I sent my MRI results to a couple of doctors and knee specialists and we decided that in the long run and for my future as a baseball player, this surgery would be the best plan," Machado said in a statement issued by the club. "I will immediately begin the rehabilitation process in hopes of being ready for the start of spring training."
Whether or not he'll be ready for spring training is still unknown. The estimated recovery time for the surgery, which he'll have on Monday, is four to six months. The optimistic estimate puts him ready for baseball activities by mid-February, around the time pitchers and catchers begin to report. A more conservative timeframe means he'll likely miss most-to-all of spring training, and there's a decent chance he could miss the start of the regular season.
There's no reason at this point to believe he won't make a full recovery, so if anything it may actually make him cheaper for owners come draft day. Obviously we'll update his status many more times before late March.
National League Quick Hits: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Andre Ethier (ankle) will be a game-time decision for Friday's game. Mattingly recently said Ethier didn't look "all that great" in center during a workout on Wednesday. The final decision likely won't come until Friday afternoon ... Joe Kelly will start opposite Zack Greinke in Friday's Game 1. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn't expand on who might pitch Game 4 ... Ricky Nolasco will start either Game 3 or Game 4 of the NLCS, according to Mattingly. Hyun-Jin Ryu will start the other ... Allen Craig (foot) has been ruled out for the NLCS. There's still an outside chance he could be ready to DH should the Cardinals advance to the World Series ... Rockies owner Dick Monfort said the team has no intention of trading Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez this year ... Matt Kemp's surgery to repair the AC joint in his left shoulder was successful. He's expected to be ready to go by spring training.
American League Quick Hits: Anibal Sanchez will start Game 1 for the Tigers. He'll be opposed by Red Sox starter Jon Lester ... Wei-Yin Chen underwent surgery to remove small bone spurs from his right knee. He's expected to be ready for the start of spring training ... there's a "very real chance" the Tigers will trade Max Scherzer in the offseason, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. There's a very real chance a lot of things will happen, but being possible and being likely are two different things. A team would have to pony up an awful lot to get Scherzer at his peak ... David Price, on the other hand, said he expects to be dealt this offseason. It will be interesting to see what the Rays ask for in return for their ace.