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.
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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
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.