OAKLAND, California // Detroit won through to another appearance in the American League Championship Series by beating Oakland 3-0 on Friday, sealing a 3-2 series victory, with Justin Verlander in dominant form on the mound.
The Tigers became the first team to reach the ALCS in three straight years since the New York Yankees from 1998-2001.
Their opponent will be Boston, which will host Game 1 on Saturday. Despite both being historic clubs, they have never before faced each other in the play-offs.
Verlander held Oakland hitless into the seventh inning but a two-out single by Yoenis Cespedes ended his bid to record the third no-hitter in post-season history.
Verlander made it a post-season record 30 straight scoreless innings against one team. He struck out 10 in eight innings.
His performance on Friday was reminiscent of his gem – one day short of a year ago – when he pitched a shutout against the A’s in another Game 5.
“It felt good out there,” Verlander said. “It’s the first time in a while my changeup’s been really good. This lineup with a bunch of left-handed hitters; that was a big pitch for me.”
Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning for his first home run in three weeks and just his third extra-base hit in 99 at-bats. That ended a 20-inning scoreless streak by the Tigers at the Coliseum.
Oakland’s rookie starter Sonny Gray danced with danger from the start with stuff not nearly as crisp as just five nights before when he matched zeros with Verlander in Game 2.
A’s manager Bob Melvin went with Gray over 18-game winner and 40-year-old Bartolo Colon, who yielded three first-inning runs to lose Game 1.
Verlander didn’t allow a baserunner until issuing a one-out walk in the sixth – but the no-hit bid remained until Cespedes’ single the next inning.
Verlander had 21 strikeouts over his two starts of the series. He has 43 strikeouts in his four playoff outings against Oakland over the past two years.
The A’s saw their season end at the hands of Detroit for the third time in as many postseasons, including in a four-game sweep in the 2006 ALCS.
Oakland has lost its past six winner-take-all Game 5s and fell to 1-12 in potential clinchers since 2000. The A’s struck out 57 times; the most ever in a best-of-five play-off series.
The Tigers are determined to take the next step and win a championship after being swept in four games of the 2012 World Series by the San Francisco Giants.
“That’s the motivation that we’ve been looking for, that we’ve had all year,” Verlander said. “Guys like Torii (Hunter) who wasn’t a part of our team last year, he comes in and he’s got that urge. He wants to win that championship before he retires. Everybody else that was here that had a taste of that last year how much it hurts, it’s that extra driving factor.”