Tonight’s Game Five between the Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers seemed awfully familiar. It was eeirly similar to Game Five between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates, contested just 24 hours earlier. Dominant and well-decorated ace mows down opposing lineup. Rookie starter makes one crucial mistake which ends in seats. Scene. Fin.
Justin Verlander pitched about as well as he, or anybody, can pitch. Verlander had all three of his offerings working, throwing them seemingly at random. First pitch curve for you, changeups for you, upper nineties heat for you – don’t push, there are plenty of good seats available in the home dugout. Nobody knew what to expect, other than a frustrating and brief at bat. The A’s went hitless for six innings before finally taking advantage of Johnny Peralta’s fall down range for their first hit.
This game was also very much like the Game Five played before these same two teams in this same stadium just one year ago. In a deciding Game 5 played 364 days ago, Verlander went nine innings, striking out 11, walking just one and allowing four hits. Sixteen swinging strikes. Domination.
Though he didn’t go the distance tonight, he was just as good. Eight innings pitched, 10 strikeouts, one walk and two hits. 24 swinging strikes. Last year’s game score? 89. Tonight? 87. Total domination in equal measure.
The A’s, well, what is left to say about the Oakland Athletics at this point? Billy Beane‘s transcribed Moneyball quote will follow him to the end of days.
The Tigers are a really good, if top-heavy, baseball team. Like the Cardinals last night, they flat beat their competition. The Tigers won because Justin Verlander put his foot on the throat of the Athletics and did an entire kettle bell workout. Not until he left and Joaquin Benoit took over did the A’s even appear to have a chance. Verlander was too good, just as Max Scherzer was too good in relief in Game Four.
The attrition might not catch up to the A’s, because they still have the AL’s ERA leader to start Game One against Boston. Add in a flickering hope that Miguel Cabrera might still be worth a damn and you have a scary team with World Series aspirations.
So the deepest/best rotation in baseball and the best hitter, too? That seems like a decent start when facing a potential Red Sox juggernaut. Not a good League Championship series for fans of the underdog but a great LCS for fans of “two storied franchises with history and excellent players.” Sounds boring. Count me OUT.