The Detroit Tigers became the second team to advance to a League Championship Series following a 6-0 walk over the Oakland Athletics in Game Five. The Tigers landed in Oakland up two games, but a strong pitching performance by the Athletics in Game Three and delicious Jose Valverde blown save in Game Four evened up the series. Jim Leyland handed the ball to Justin Verlander tonight and cut off contact with his bullpen.

Verlander was nearly untouchable in Game One, surrendering just three hits and striking out 11 in seven innings. He dialed up the nasty once again on this night, fanning 11 in a complete game shutout. He needed 122 pitches to get the job done, which leads one to wonder why Leyland was so cautious while holding a six run lead heading into the bottom half of the seventh. YOLO, or something.

The Athletics hitters had nothing for Verlander, although Yoenis Cespedes legged out a double in the first inning. Hope was sporadic from that point forward before being extinguished forever as the Tigers began to build a lead in the third inning.

It was a series rife with defensive lapses, silenced star hitters and a manic display of judgement from Coco Crisp in the outfield. I can’t say that the Tigers were ultimately the better team, but they were tonight and that’s all that matters.

The Win Expectancy Graph

Source: FanGraphs

The Most Important Play of the Game

As easy and honest as it would be to rip a clip of Verlander taking the mound in the first inning and cite it as the game’s most important play, we’ll give a little bit of respect to the achievement of scoring runs.

Austin Jackson scored two of the Tigers runs and drove in another two with a single and a double. His single in the seventh plated Jhonny Peralta and gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead.

The Shamsky Award

Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.

A total of four Athletics players registered hits versus Verlander. Brandon Moss was one of those players, he also drew a walk to become the the only Athletics player to reach base twice. More on Moss later.

Tweets of the Game

The ‘What Was He Thinking?’ of the Game

Brandon Moss, who has stolen three bases in eight attempts during his six year career, took off for second on a Verlander pitch that hit the dirt. Alex Avila caught 34 baserunners stealing in the regular season, many of whom DON’T run with the gracefulness of Delmon Young on a cheesecake bender. Moss TOOTBLAN.

The Aggravating Thing the Manager Did

I’m not going to shit on Bob Melvin here while he’s down, and he doesn’t deserve that anyway. For the sake of reposting the Cito GIF for the 78th time on this site, though, we’ll give Melvin a light spanking for pinch hitting Jonny Gomes in the 8th inning. Gomes hit .209 vs. right handed pitchers this season and holds a .222 career mark. He didn’t stand a chance against Verlander, and Melvin seemingly inserted him just for the sake of giving him a postseason at-bat.

The Three Stars

1. Justin Verlander: 9.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 11 K. A typically dominant showing from the Cy Young favourite, even if he was getting some help from home plate umpire Wally Bell.

2. Austin Jackson: He’s probably the Tigers best all around player, and he did a little bit of everything tonight.

3. Alex Avila: I’d be remiss to not hand out an honourable mentions to Omar Infante, but Avila made an impact in spite of going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He blocked balls and scooped them out of the dirt all night while making some of Verlander’s borderline pitches look really nice. He also let Brandon Moss know that no head start is great enough for him to pick up an extra base.