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Tigers, Verlander mow down A's in Game 5

The A's were shut out by Justin Verlander, and the Tigers are moving on to the ALCS.

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Verlander spins shutout, Tigers advance to ALCS

Justin Verlander was magic, leading the Tigers to a 6-0 win over the A's and their second consecutive American League Championship Series.

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Tigers pour it on, lead 6-0 in Game 5

The A's have faced tougher odds this season. Maybe. Okay, probably not. I'm not sure the exact odds of the comeback to win the West versus the odds of a three- four-, wait, five-run lead? Goodness. No, this is the biggest predicament in a season of predicaments for the A's.

Justin Verlander is at 88 pitches through six. So he's not a lock for a complete game. Then you figure in some wildness from Al Alburquerque, maybe some jitters from

Johnny Peralta led off the top of the seventh with a single, and he moved to third on an Omar Infante single just over the reach of Cliff Pennington.

Then the wheels fell off.

Jarrod Parker was lifted for Ryan Cook, who allowed a single to knock in a run, and he hit Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded to drive in another. Jerry Blevins came in to face Prince Fielder, who hit a mighty pop-up that Coco Crisp broke back on before it fell in for a single. That made it 5-0.

Stephen Drew made an error, and ... look, I watched it so you didn't have to. It was ugly. In the end, the Tigers scored four times, took a 6-0 lead, and they get to send Justin Verlander back out.

If there's any magic left, Oakland, now's the time.

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Parker looks good, but Verlander in control

Jarrod Parker has impressed me more than just about any A's acquisition of the offseason. Tommy Milone is a keeper, as is Derek Norris. Josh Reddick was a great return for an oft-injured closer. A.J. Cole and Brad Peacock could be huge assets soon.

But Parker is amazing, with a fastball/change combination beyond his years. It's not just a matter of the A's getting him for longer and cheaper than Trevor Cahill; I'd rather have him pitching for my team right now. What an amazing trade.

Justin Verlander, though, is kind of ridiculous. He's allowed three runners through five innings -- a walk and two hits -- while striking out seven. It was actually six when I started writing this, but I saw how Derek Norris was looking in his at-bat, changed it to "seven" and didn't look back.

Parker looks impressive. Verlander looks supernatural. Through five innings, the Tigers have a 2-0 lead. Verlander's thrown 72 pitches, by the way, so he should be okay to go the distance if the A's don't get to him first.

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Tigers get on the board, lead 2-0

And there are Justin Verlander's runs. Ease up, fellas. He'll take it from here.

Except that's too glib by half. Because Jarod Parker is pitching almost as well as Verlander -- his change-up is filthy, and he's locating well. Pitchers throwing well can still get dinged. The A's can still get to Verlander.

All things being equal, though, being down 2-0 to Verlander in an elimination game is kind of messed up.

Omar Infante singled to open the inning, moving to second on a wild pitch. Austin Jackson doubled him home on a slider low in the zone for the Tigers' first run. With no one out, manager Jim Leyland had Quintin Berry bunt Jackson to third, which is just a terrible, horrible decision to, wait, hey, it worked. A wild pitch in front of Derek Norris brought home the second run of the inning.

Parker then got Miguel Cabrera to fly out, and he made Prince Fielder look like Emmanuel Burriss with a three-pitch strikeout, all change-ups. But the damage was done, and the Tigers hold a 2-0 lead that must seem more like a 4-0 lead with Verlander on the mound.

Alright, so I'm a Verlander fanboy. But, still.

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A's, T'rs scoreless through first inning

Well, you should be able to abbreviate it T'rs.

With an imbalanced lineup like the Tigers' group, it's easy to get caught up in the players you don't expect a lot from. Sure, they have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, but what about Quintin Berry and Delmon Young.

Problem with that is those guys occasionally get on in front of the big guys. And with one out in the top of the first, Berry roped a double past Coco Crisp in center, setting the table for the dual-headed monster in the middle of the lineup. But A's starter Jarrod Parker got both Cabrera and Fielder to ground out to the left side.

In the bottom half, things were mostly quiet. With two outs, Yoenis Cespedes slammed a double off Tigers starter Justin Verlander, but Seth Smith hit a comebacker on the first pitch he saw, ending the threat.

Parker threw 12 pitches in the inning, 10 for strikes, while Verlander threw 13 pitches, nine for strikes. It's been a crisp game on both sides, roped doubles notwithstanding.

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Bob Melvin reveals plan for beating Verlander

With the planet's best pitcher starting in Game 5 for the Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin has posted his lineup for Thursday night's winner-take-all contest:

1. Coco Crisp# - CF
2. Stephen Drew* - SS
4. Seth Smith* - DH
5. Josh Reddick* - RF
7. Brandon Moss* - 1B
8. Derek Norris - C

Wouldn't it be nice to have a left-handed-hitting third baseman and a left-handed-hitting catcher for a game like this? Say, George Brett and Yogi Berra?

Instead, the A's will make do with that they've got, which has generally been good enough this season but seems ill-suited to the task of scoring four or five runs against Justin Verlander.

Of course, that's a common lament around the American League. Considering the unlikeliness of Verlander blowing up, the A's best bet is probably to scratch and claw their way to two or three runs, get Verlander out of the game in the sixth or seventh inning, and then hang on for dear life.

Hey, it could work.
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Verlander vs. miracle A's: immovable, unstoppable

Justin Verlander is a titan. The A's are unbelievable. This is the showdown of the year.

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