Final, Tigers 3-0: Joaquin Benoit closed out the A’s in the ninth inning, and Oakland’s magical season has come to an end.
The Tigers are moving on to face the Red Sox in the ALCS. Boston and Detroit will begin their battle for American League supremacy at Fenway Park on Saturday.
Justin Verlander was dominant in Thursday’s winner-take-all Game 5. He shut down the Oakland offense for eight innings while allowing just two singles and a walk. The A’s didn’t muster up their first hit until there were two outs in the seventh inning, and Verlander struck out 10 hitters while throwing 111 pitches in the victory.
Miguel Cabrera gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning Thursday by smacking a two-run homer over the left field fence. Detroit added a run in the sixth inning, and that was plenty for Verlander. The A’s produced two baserunners against Benoit in the ninth inning, but Seth Smith flied out to Torii Hunter in right field to end the ballgame.
Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS will take place in Boston on Saturday and Sunday. Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) will take place in Detroit on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Red Sox went 3-4 in seven games against the Tigers during the regular season.
Mid 9th, Tigers 3-0: Grant Balfour tossed a 1-2-3 inning, and we’ll head to the last of the ninth.
The A’s need three runs to keep their season alive. Joaquin Benoit takes over after eight masterful innings from Justin Verlander.
Jose Iglesias will enter as a defensive replacement at short. Ramon Santiago will play third base.
Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie are due up for Oakland.
End 8th, Tigers 3-0: Josh Reddick singled into center field with one out, but Justin Verlander otherwise enjoyed another superb inning.
Verlander struck out Brandon Moss and Stephen Vogt while tossing a scoreless eighth. He now has 10 strikeouts overall, and that’ll likely be it for the Tigers ace.
Joaquin Benoit is warming up in the Detroit bullpen, and manager Jim Leyland seemed to tell Verlander after the right-hander returned to the dugout that his night is done.
The A’s produced just three baserunners (two singles and a walk) against Verlander in eight innings. He threw 111 pitches (76 strikes) and was absolutely dominant.
The Tigers are three defensive outs away from an ALCS date with the Red Sox.
Mid 8th, Tigers 3-0: Sean Doolittle worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Alex Avila and Omar Infante flied out to left field and center field, respectively. Don Kelly struck out to end the inning.
Brandon Moss, Alberto Callaspo and Josh Reddick are due up for Oakland in the eighth inning.
Justin Verlander has thrown 97 pitches (66 strikes) thus far.
The A’s haven’t been able to do anything against Verlander in this game, and it continues a trend. Verlander has now tossed 29 consecutive scoreless innings against the A’s.
End 7th, Tigers 3-0: Justin Verlander went 6 2/3 innings before Yoenis Cespedes gave the A’s their first hit of Game 5.
Verlander looked like he was well on his way to another no-hit inning. Josh Donaldson struck out swinging on a 96 mph fastball up and in, and Jed Lowrie flied out to Don Kelly in deep left field.
But Cespedes refused to go down. He lined a single into center field to break up Verlander’s no-no bid. Cespedes was Oakland’s second baserunner of the game, as Josh Reddick walked in the sixth inning.
The hit didn’t faze Verlander in the least. The hard-throwing right-hander rebounded to strike out Seth Smith to end the inning.
Mid 7th, Tigers 3-0: The Tigers made some two-out noise before Dan Otero sealed off the inning.
Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez connected on back-to-back singles with two outs in the seventh. Fielder has been on base twice, and Martinez has collected three hits (all singles).
Otero escaped the threat by getting Jhonny Peralta to hit a chopper down to third base, where Josh Donaldson made the play and stepped on the bag for the inning-ending forceout.
Justin Verlander carries a no-hitter to the mound in the seventh inning.
End 6th, Tigers 3-0: The A’s finally produced a baserunner against Justin Verlander. But it was a walk, and it led to nothing on the scoreboard.
Verlander walked Josh Reddick on six pitches with one out in the sixth inning. The right-hander jumped ahead in the count, 0-2, but then missed with four straight offerings to give Oakland its first baserunner of the game.
Stephen Vogt gave one a ride toward the wall in right-center field following Reddick’s walk. Austin Jackson raced over to make the catch on the edge of the warning track.
Verlander ended the inning by retiring Coco Crisp on a lazy fly ball to left field. The A’s still don’t have a hit.
Mid 6th, Tigers 3-0: The Tigers now have a three-run edge after pushing across a run in the sixth inning.
Alex Avila followed back-to-back singles from Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta with a sharp ground ball to the right side. Brandon Moss was playing in on the grass at first base — likely expecting a bunt — and dived to knock it down. Moss scooped the ball and fired to second base for a forceout. Martinez took third base and Avila reached safely at first.
Omar Infante then hit a hard grounder to Josh Donaldson at third base with runners at the corners. Donaldson dropped to his knees while corralling it and fired to second base in an attempt to start a double play. The throw was in the dirt, though, and Callaspo bobbled it. Callaspo ultimately gained control to complete the forceout, but Martinez scored from third base on the play.
Justin Verlander now heads back out with a little extra support. He hasn’t given up a baserunner yet.
10:01 p.m., Tigers 2-0: Bob Melvin is turning to his bullpen.
Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta started the sixth inning with back-to-back singles off Sonny Gray, and Melvin has taken the ball from the rookie.
Dan Otero is the new Oakland pitcher.
End 5th, Tigers 2-0: Justin Verlander is dealing right now.
The A’s still haven’t been able to muster up a baserunner against the Tigers ace. Yoenis Cespedes, Seth Smith and Brandon Moss went down in order in the fifth inning.
Smith made Verlander work. He got into a full count and saw eight pitches, but ended his at-bat by grounding out to short. The Tigers’ infield was positioned perfectly for Smith’s ground ball up the middle.
Mid 5th, Tigers 2-0: The Tigers threatened for more in the fifth inning, but Sonny Gray avoided any damage.
No. 9 hitter Don Kelly walked to lead off the inning, and moved up to second base when Torii Hunter grounded to short for the second out.
The A’s opted to walk Miguel Cabrera and take their chances with Prince Fielder. The move worked, as Fielder grounded back to the mound to end the inning with runners at first and second.
Justin Verlander now heads back to the hill with Oakland still looking for its first baserunner.
End 4th, Tigers 2-0: The A’s haven’t produced any offense thus far.
Justin Verlander tossed another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, making it 12 straight to start the game.
Coco Crisp and Jed Lowrie both put the ball on the ground, and Josh Donaldson flied out to center field.
Sonny Gray will now look to calm down in the fifth inning. Gray threw 33 pitches in the fourth inning while struggling mightily. He’s likely on a short leash, as the A’s have had some action in the bullpen.
Mid 4th, Tigers 2-0: Sonny Gray tried to sneak a high fastball by Miguel Cabrera. Bad move.
Torii Hunter put the wheels in motion for the Tigers’ offense in the fourth inning. He worked the count full and sent a one-out single into center field.
Gray then fell behind in the count, 1-0, to Cabrera. The rookie tried to come back with a fastball near the top of the strike zone, and Cabrera flicked it out of the yard for a two-run homer.
Cabrera clearly isn’t 100 percent right now. But Miggy at 75-80 percent is still better than most of the league at 100 percent.
Prince Fielder bounced out to first base for the second out following Cabrera’s blast, and trouble ensued from there. Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta smacked back-to-back singles, and Alex Avila worked a walk to load the bases. Omar Infante grounded out to short to end the inning.
End 3rd, 0-0: These two starters had a good, old-fashioned pitchers’ duel in Game 2. We could be on our way to another one, if the first three innings are any indication.
The A’s are still looking for their first baserunner of the night, as Justin Verlander has been in total control thus far.
The bottom three — Alberto Callaspo, Josh Reddick and Stephen Vogt — went down in order against the Tigers ace in the third inning. Callaspo flied out, Reddick grounded out and Vogt struck out.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: Sonny Gray needed 10 pitches to get through the third inning.
The trio of Alex Avila, Omar Infante and Don Kelly failed to make any noise against the 23-year-old.
Avila grounded the first pitch of the inning down to first base. Infante then put the ball on the ground to short, and Kelly flied out to his counterpart in left field.
End 2nd, 0-0: Justin Verlander has retired the first six hitters he’s faced.
Yoenis Cespedes, Seth Smith and Brandon Moss went down in order against the Tigers ace in the second inning. Smith and Moss both struck out after Cespedes lined out to right-center field.
Smith went down looking on a high 3-2 fastball. It was a borderline pitch, but home plate umpire Tom Hallion ruled that it caught the top of the strike zone.
Moss went down swinging on four pitches — all fastballs.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: An interesting decision by Tigers manager Jim Leyland ended the top of the second inning — and let Sonny Gray off the hook a bit.
Gray walked Prince Fielder on four pitches to begin the second inning.
Victor Martinez then stepped in to a loud chorus of boos. Martinez, of course, had a heated exchange with A’s closer Grant Balfour in the ninth inning of Monday’s Game 3 in Detroit. Once the boos subsided, Martinez lifted a fly ball to deep center field. Coco Crisp raced back while shielding the sun, and made the play on the edge of the warning track.
Gray, who struggled a bit with his control in the inning, got locked into a full count against Jhonny Peralta. Leyland opted to send Fielder with Peralta in a 3-2 count, and it ended with a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play.
It’s common to see the hit-and-run with a runner on first and one out, but Gray tends to strike out a lot of hitters, so it was a somewhat curious move in this particular instance, especially with Fielder running.
End 1st, 0-0: Justin Verlander had no problem following the rookie’s lead and tossing a 1-2-3 first inning.
A’s leadoff man Coco Crisp went up hacking in the first. Being aggressive could be part of Oakland’s game plan, as Verlander is extremely dangerous once he finds a rhythm.
Crisp didn’t have any success this go-round, though. He hit a first-pitch fly ball to left field that Don Kelly caught awkwardly. It looked like Kelly had trouble with it in the sun, but he ultimately made the play while dropping to his knees.
Verlander then struck out Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie.
Mid 1st, 0-0: The rookie is off to a good start.
Sonny Gray recorded a 1-2-3 first inning. He struck out Austin Jackson to begin the game, and then induced two ground-ball outs.
Gray started Jackson off with two fastballs before tossing three straight offspeed pitches. Perhaps anticipating another hook, Jackson failed to offer at a 96 mph heater.
Torii Hunter grounded to second base, and Miguel Cabrera grounded to short.
8:12p.m.: The Red Sox are certainly in an enviable position right now.
While the Tigers and A’s battle in a mentally and physically draining Game 5, the Red Sox are preparing to open up the ALCS at Fenway Park on Saturday. Boston should be well-rested, and has No. 1 starter Jon Lester lined up for Game 1.
The big question for Red Sox fans is: Which team would you rather play? The Tigers have the star power, but the A’s have been a tough team to beat all season.
8:08 p.m.: Sonny Gray missed outside with his first pitch of the night. The A’s and Tigers are underway.
8:05 p.m. ET: Which team will play the Red Sox in the ALCS?
We’re only hours away from answering that very question, as the Tigers and Athletics are just about ready to kick off their decisive ALDS Game 5 in Oakland. Tigers ace Justin Verlander will go toe-to-toe with A’s rookie Sonny Gray.
This is the second year in a row that these two teams will play a winner-take-all showdown, as they battled for five games in the 2012 ALDS before the Tigers ultimately emerged victorious. That Game 5 — like Thursday’s — was played at Oakland’s O.co Coliseum, and the Tigers won 6-0 behind a complete-game, four-hit, 11-strikeout shutout from Verlander.
These two hurlers have already battled once in this series, and neither pitcher surrendered a run. Verlander pitched seven shutout innings in Game 2, while Gray countered with eight shutout innings. The A’s eventually won in the bottom of the ninth inning when Stephen Vogt delivered an RBI single.
The decision to start Gray over Bartolo Colon was somewhat of a surprise, but A’s manager Bob Melvin decided to ride the hot hand of the 23-year-old instead of the 40-year-old veteran who won 18 games this season.
“It’s not like Bartolo has done anything to warrant not pitching in this game,” Melvin said. “It’s just that Sonny pitched so well.”
Thursday’s first pitch is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. The Game 5 lineups are below.
Coco Crisp, CF
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Jed Lowrie, SS
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Seth Smith, DH
Brandon Moss, 1B
Alberto Callaspo, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF
Stephen Vogt, C
Sonny Gray, RHP
Austin Jackson, CF
Torii Hunter, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 3B
Prince Fielder, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Alex Avila, C
Omar Infante, 2B
Don Kelly, LF
Justin Verlander, RHP