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Tigers Finally Close Out A's Behind Verlander, Strong Staff

Jeremy Bergman |
October 12, 2012 | 11:57 a.m. PDT

Associate Sports Editor


Justin Verlander led a strong Tiger rotation to an ALDS victory. (Wikimedia Commons)
Justin Verlander led a strong Tiger rotation to an ALDS victory. (Wikimedia Commons)
After a shocking loss in Game 4, the Detroit Tigers finally shut the door on Oakland, shutting out the A’s 6-0 in Game 5 behind a complete game performance by Justin Verlander Thursday night.

The Tigers' ace threw all nine innings, struck out 11 batters, and only surrendered four hits. It was his second win of the series, a similar performance as his first in all respects (11 Ks, 3 H), including the all-important W. 

The previously sluggish Tiger offense came through as well. Averaging less than three runs per game so far in the series, Detroit dropped six runs on Oakland’s pitching staff, most of it coming during the penultimate seventh inning. In that frame, Austin Jackson sparked a rally with an RBI single, driving in Jhonny Peralta. Soon after, the bases were loaded, and after a hit-by-pitch, another single, and an error, the Tigers had scored four and were up 6-0. 

Whatever momentum that Oakland was going to carry over from Wednesday night’s insane ninth-inning comeback against Jose Valverde failed to materialize. The young club’s lineup of nobodies finally looked like a lineup of nobodies, reaching second base just twice all game. Young stars Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick closed out their first postseasons in the majors on low notes, going a combined 8-36 for the series, averaging .222. It was a surprising and fun year for the A’s, but their season came to a quiet close last night, an unfitting finish for such an unpredictable club.

Detroit, on the other hand, is nowhere near finished on its playoff journey. Boasting the worst regular season record of all the playoff teams, the Tigers have become the club they were cracked out to be at the season’s outset. The offense around Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera has picked up its slack, including huge – and I mean huge – free agent acquisition Prince Fielder and budding star Jackson. Although Prince finished with a .190 average, he did contribute in the power department, banging out a homer and two RBIS. But nobody on either club had more RBIs than Jackson with three, doing it all without a home run. 

On the rubber, Detroit has been spectacular. Besides Verlander, who is MVP and Cy Young-gold every time he starts, the Tigers' rotation impressed mightily in the LDS. Solid performances by Doug Fister and Max Scherzer in Games 2 and 4 kept the Tigers in this series when their offense was slacking. 

The one concern coming out of this tough LDS clash has to be the bullpen. Maybe it was early postseason jitters or maybe it was the never-say-die mentality in Oakland, but the Tigers’ pen was inconsistent and almost blew two games in the series. Valverde, for all his passion and velocity, was very hittable during the Game 4 collapse and Joaquin Benoit, Valverde’s setup guy, fared no better in Game 2, surrendering the lead. 

With much more powerful offenses on the horizon, Detroit better shore up its relief pitching, or else their hopes for a Motown crown will be dashed as quickly as their late leads.  



Reach Associate Sports Editor Jeremy Bergman via e-mail or follow him on Twitter



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