OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Already an ace and MVP, Justin Verlander proved to be the Detroit Tigers’ ultimate closer, too.
Verlander struck out 11 in a four-hitter, pitching Detroit into a second straight AL championship series a day after Jose Valverde failed to hold a ninth-inning lead with a 6-0 win against the Oakland Athletics in the decisive Game 5 of their division series Thursday night.
Verlander tossed his first career postseason shutout and complete game with a 122-pitch masterpiece.
The Tigers will face either the New York Yankees or Baltimore Orioles, tied at 2 games apiece heading into Game 5 on Friday night in New York. Game 1 of the ALCS is scheduled for Saturday.
Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP, was so sharp nobody in the bullpen ever got up to throw. He struck out 22 in his wins on both ends of this nail-biting series.
After squandering two chances to clinch the series, including blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead in Game 4, manager Jim Leyland left it all up to Verlander just as he said he would.
Austin Jackson hit an RBI double in the third and a run-scoring single as the Tigers added on in a four-run seventh. Prince Fielder hit an RBI single.
The Tigers are on to another ALCS despite getting just one RBI all series from Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera — on a bases-loaded hit by pitch, no less. Booed by the yellow towel-waving sellout crowd of 36,393 each time he stepped into the batter’s box. Cabrera finished 5 for 20, and it was his hard-hit ball dropped by Coco Crisp in a 5-4 Game 2 victory Sunday that allowed two runs to score.
Yankees………1, 13 innings
NEW YORK (AP) — Now they have a last shot to finally overtake the New York Yankees.
J.J. Hardy hit an RBI double in the 13th inning and Baltimore bounced back from a demoralizing loss to outlast the Yankees, forcing a deciding Game 5 in the AL division series.
After splitting 22 games this year, it all comes down this: a winner-take-all game for a spot in the AL championship series.
Game 1 winner CC Sabathia was set to pitch the deciding game for the Yankees. Orioles manager Buck Showalter had not announced his starter.
The Orioles were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position until Hardy doubled off David Phelps with one out to score Manny Machado. Phelps had relieved in the 12th after Joba Chamberlain was hit by a flying broken bat, forcing him to leave with a bruised right elbow.
Jim Johnson bounced back from allowing Raul Ibanez’s pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning Wednesday to earn his second save in the series with a perfect 13th.