Verlander spins shutout, Tigers advance to ALCS

Ezra Shaw - Getty Images

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

The Oakland Athletics had magic. They had mojo, good vibrations, and derring-do. But the Detroit Tigers had Justin Verlander, who threw a shutout to beat the Athletics 6-0 in Game 5 and send Detroit to the American League Championship Series for the second consecutive season.

The A's started rookie Jarrod Parker, who was impressive through 6⅓ innings, allowing seven hits, walking one, and striking out six. He gave up two runs in the third, though, with one run scoring on Austin Jackson's double, and another on a wild pitch that probably should have been blocked by catcher Derek Norris. Parker didn't throw himself into trouble too often, thanks to an outstanding change-up.

Verlander, though, was otherworldly. There's the Verlander who can rack up 100 pitches before the end of the fifth, and then there's Super Verlander. Okay, so this was Super Verlander. But Wally Bell was giving a couple inches off the plate, and Verlander was taking them. It wasn't an egregious abomination of a strike zone, but it was a little wide, just as it was in Game 1. Unlike Game 1, Verlander had the command to take full-time advantage, instead of occasionally working the corners.

The A's got five runners in the game, and they didn't get two runners on at the same time until the eighth. Verlander threw 122 pitches, striking out 11 and walking one. He set a major-league record by striking out 22 in the Division Series over his two games, and his shutout was the first for the Tigers in a postseason game since Joe Coleman shut out the A's in the 1972 ALCS.

The A's kept it close until the seventh inning, when Parker allowed a pair of singles. With one out, Bob Melvin went to the bullpen, and everything ended in flames. Ryan Cook allowed an RBI single to Jackson, and then he walked Quintin Berry to get to Miguel Cabrera, whom he then hit to force in a run. Prince Fielder followed with a bloop to center to score a run, and Stephen Drew's error brought in the final run, giving the Tigers a 6-0 lead.

The A's had the momentum, and they had one of the most memorable, unexpected seasons in baseball history. But the Tigers had Justin Verlander, and they got to use him for two games. Almost unfair, that.

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