There was no late-inning rally in this one, no dramatic come-from-behind victory.
It was a good run for the Oakland Athletics, a fantastically exciting, unpredictable run, but it’s all over now.
After falling to the Detroit Tigers 6-0 in Game 5 of the American League Division Series, the A’s say goodbye to October baseball, while their opponents advance to the AL Championship Series.
It was all Detroit in this one, and their victory began with two wild pitches from Oakland’s rookie starter, Jarrod Parker, who had only thrown errantly 10 times all year.
After hitting a lead-off single in the third inning, Omar Infante advanced to second base on Parker’s first wild pitch, and scored on a double from Austin Jackson to make it 1-0 for the visitors.
Jackson advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, and sprinted home for a quick 2-0 lead when Parker’s pitch got away from A’s catcher Derek Norris at the plate.
The Tigers added four insurance runs in the top of the seventh, sealing their entry into the ALCS.
First, Jackson picked up his second RBI of the night, plating Jhonny Peralta from third base with a sharply hit single. Then Ryan Cook, in to relieve Parker, made things worse by plunking Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded to walk in the fourth Tigers’ run in the game.
Prince Fielder and Delmon Young pitched in with singles to make it 6-0.
As the innings dragged on, the frustration mounted for the Athletics.
There was Josh Reddick throwing his batting gloves against the dugout wall following his fifth inning pop-out. There was Coco Crisp voicing his concern about the umpire’s liberal strike zone in the sixth. There was the entire A’s lineup desperately trying to figure out Justin Verlander, to no avail.
Last year’s MVP and Cy Young award winner was outstanding, striking out 11 and allowing four hits in the complete game shutout. With the performance, Verlander set a division-series record by striking out 22 batters in two ALDS games.
Parker, doing his part on the mound, kept his team in striking distance through the 6 1/3 innings he pitched. The 23-year-old allowed four earned runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out six Tigers’ batters.
When they got on base, the Tigers were more aggressive than they had been in any other game this series.
Leaving the ALDS with four stolen bases in total, they picked up three in Game 5 alone, including one from Peralta, who had only one stolen base during the entire regular season.
All three came off Parker, who with 21 allowed the fifth most stolen bases out of all American League pitchers during the regular season.
COUTO’S SERIES MVPs
Who better to pitch a do-or-die playoff game than the reigning Cy Young award winner? Who better to halt the Oakland Athletics’ remarkable postseason run than last year’s MVP?
The Tigers ace walked quietly toward the mound at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland on Thursday night, and within the first inning, he set the tone for Game 5.
By striking out the first two batters he faced, and four more before the end of the fourth inning, Verlander assured the Athletics that advancing to the ALCS would be no easy task.
The 29-year-old walked away from the ALDS with two more post-season wins under his belt, bringing his career record to 5-3.
He won Game 1 with a masterful pitching performance, allowing one run on three hits through seven innings. Though he walked four Athletics batters, he also struck out 11, and Game 5 saw more of the same.
With the Tigers’ bats quieted for most of the series, Detroit needed its starters to shine. Verlander certainly did.
Entering Game 3 down two games to none in the series, it was Coco Crisp who got things going when Yoenis Cespedes drove him in from second base for the first run of the game -- and the first step in Oakland’s remarkable comeback.
Then came Game 4 where, without a doubt, Crisp was the hero. Stepping up to the plate with two out in the bottom of the ninth, his team down by a run and his teammate, Seth Smith, eagerly waiting at second base, all the centre fielder needed to do was put the ball in play, and he did just that.
Facing elimination, Crisp singled to right field to drive in the run, and hope for Game 5 followed.
But it wasn’t just Crisp’s bat that made him valuable in this series.
We all remember the image of Crisp leaping against the centre-field wall and snagging a would-be home run from Prince Fielder in Game 3. And we all remember the look on the Tigers’ first baseman’s stunned face as he froze in his tracks around the bases.
On a team full of rookies, it was the 11-year veteran who came through.
Oakland’s 24-year-old Game 3 starter pitched six scoreless innings, holding the Tigers to two hits and two walks for a 0.00 ERA.
In a game in which his own team’s offense struggled, scoring just two runs for a 2-0 win, keeping Detroit’s sluggers at bay was paramount to the A’s first do-or-die victory on Tuesday night.
As the only non-rookie on the Athletics’ post-season starting rotation, Anderson certainly did his part in the ALDS, striking out six batters in Game 3, including Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.