Tigers Squander Verlander Brilliance, Come Out of Oakland With Split

"Pssst, hey guys, score me some runs." "Yeah yeah, okay."

“Pssst, hey guys, score me some runs.”
“Yeah yeah, okay.”

Last night, Justin Verlander became just the second starter to EVER go at least eight shutout innings, collect at least nine strikeouts and not win the game. The only other pitcher? Mike Mussina in 1997, when he was with the Baltimore Orioles. Yes, that’s right, only one other pitcher got shafted by his offense the way Verlander did last night. Well, at least he’s in good company, eh?

Verlander, who extended his postseason scoreless streak against the A’s to 22 innings, was brilliant. It was reminiscent of his start in game 5 of last year’s ALDS, when he shackled the A’s and the Tigers won 6-0 to go on to the ALCS. Unfortunately for this year’s version of Verlander, his teammates couldn’t give him the run support to claim another victory. For all the doubts people had about Verlander due to his inconsistent, oftentimes shaky regular season, he showed people why he’s still one of the best.

More after the jump

Verlander threw 7 shutout innings, racking up 11 strikeouts, and allowing just 4 hits and 1 walk. He appears to be, according to Jason Beck’s research, the only starting pitcher to go 7 shutout innings, strike out 11, and not get a win. Admittedly, that’s probably a short list to begin with, but it does highlight the ridiculousness of the offense’s struggles.

On the other end, the A’s rookie Sonny Gray was just as masterful, matching Verlander inning for inning. The Tigers weren’t without their chances, but Gray was able to get out of the few scoring threats without any damage. The Tigers botched maybe their biggest scoring threat in the fifth inning, when they got two on with one out, and attempted a hit and run with Austin Jackson at the plate. The threat ended as you might have predicted: Jackson struck out and the A’s gunned down José Iglesias at second.

Both teams turned to their bullpens in the late innings, and the bullpens acquitted themselves well… Until Al Alburqueque came back out to pitch the ninth. Alburquerque came into the game in the eighth to get the final two outs, but struggled to start the ninth. After giving up two singles to start the inning off, Alburquerque intentionally walked Josh Reddick to load the bases. Rick Porcello was brought in, presumably for a ground ball with the hopes the Tigers could cut down the lead runner at home. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Porcello gave up a line drive single to Stephen Vogt and the A’s took game two by a score of 1-0.

Bullet Points of Grave Importance

  • With that victory, the A’s were just the eighth postseason team to win in a walkoff to break a 0-0 tie. The last time it happened was in 2004 when the Astros beat the Cardinals 1-0 in the NLCS. (h/t ESPN Stats & Info)
  • The Tigers’ offense has now scored just 7 runs in their last 54 innings (6 games), via Dan Dickerson.
  • The Tigers’ pitching staff has allowed just 3 runs in 2 games, while striking out 29, also via Dickerson.
  • After Gray came up and in against Torii Hunter in the first inning, Hunter reacted visibly, appearing upset, although there’s no way Gray was trying to send a message there. After the game, Hunter told reporters he was trying to get into the rookie’s head, but said he thought “it ticked him off.” Gray himself said he grew up watching Hunter and Hunter’s reaction “fired him up.”

    In a vacuum, the Tigers did what they wanted, which was to take back home field advantage by winning one on the road and go to Detroit with the chance to win the series. When you consider the context surrounding the game, however, they missed a big opportunity to grab the series in a stranglehold heading back to Detroit. The game was there for the taking—considering what the Oakland offense has done too, one run probably would have won it—but the Tigers just couldn’t get the hit they needed.

    The Tigers do hit better at Comerica Park than on the road, while Oakland isn’t quite as good outside their home ballpark, so maybe we will see a little more offense on Monday and Tuesday. The Tigers will need to get to Jarrod Parker and Dan Straily, though, and hope the pitching staff continues to do what they’ve been doing so far. If the Tigers get even just a little bit of offense, which would be a heck of a lot more than what they’ve gotten lately, they will put themselves in position to possibly take the series.

    • Snowman

      Hi all it’s snowman;)
      Please answer a couple of question for me.
      1- in the bottom of 9 inning why was Miguel c still in line up? Why not a defensive replacement? Remember he just batted in top of 9th inning.
      2- was was ai “a” used for a 2nd inning? Couldn’t Rick porcello start the inning?
      3- why didn’t he use Johnny p as a pinch hitter? Then put him in the field sum where.
      4- why trust Austin Jackson with a hit and run when he has struck out 3 previous times.
      Thanks for the time,

      Snow

    • AJ

      Interesting article, except you got the wrong pitcher! Gray pitched at least 8 innings with at least 9 strikeouts and didn’t get a win. Verlander pitched only 7 innings.

      Oops.

      • verlander

        I know that. It was a mistype.

    • Snowman

      So lets gets this right….
      Jimmy L goes to top of dugout steps to pull Sanchez but says one more batter boom home run!!!!
      Why not pull him then? 90 pitches thru 5 not good enough? Offense comes back and now pictching takes a dump.. Wow

      • verlander

        I’m going to hazard a guess that the bullpen wasn’t ready after the first home run but that could just be me.

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