Friday, October 11, 2013

Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera Lead Tigers over A's in Decisive Game Five

Players of the Day for Thursday, October 10, 2013

American League

Over the past two days, baseball fans have been reminded why experience matters in the post-season, especially in big games and even more so, on the mound.

Justin Verlander
Wednesday saw St. Louis ace, Adam Wainwright, go the distance in a decisive game five win over the Pirates over rookie starter, Gerrit Cole. On Thursday, with the Tigers squaring off in Oakland with the A's, Detroit sent their big-game pitcher, Justin Verlander, up the hill against rookie hurler, Sonny Gray, of the A's.

The result was eerily similar to that in St. Louis a night earlier.

Gray gave up a two-run smash over the wall in right field by an obviously ailing Miguel Cabrera in the fourth inning. 2011 Cy Young award and league MVP Verlander? All he did was take a no-hitter into the seventh inning, shut out the A's over eight full innings and send the Tigers into the AL championship series against the Red Sox.

Miguel Cabrera
Perfect through the first five innings, Verlander gave up a walk to Josh Reddick with one down in the sixth, but didn't allow a hit until Yoenis Cespedes slashed one up the middle and into center field with two gone in the seventh. Verlander finished the inning unfazed, gave up a two-out single to Reddick in the eighth and turned the ball over to closer, Joaquin Benoit, who finished the job for the 3-0 win.

The Tigers scored an additional run in the sixth, when Victor Matinez scored on a fielder's choice.

Verlander fanned 10 and allowed just the two hits and the one walk, throwing 111 pitches, getting first strikes on 17 of the 27 batters he faced, improving his lifetime post-season mark to 7-4, with a 3.48 ERA.

Cabrera, who led the AL in batting with a .348 average, finished second in HRs and RBI behind Baltimore's Chris Davis, with 44 long balls and 137 ribbies. The All-Star third baseman and triple crown winner from 2012 has been slowed late in the year by nagging abdominal and leg ailments. The homer was his 11th in post-season play, to go with 33 RBI and a cumulative .273 average.

The Tigers will travel to Boston for games one and two of the best-of-seven championship series, starting Saturday at 8:00 pm EDT.

National League

There were no National League games on Thursday. The Dodgers and Cardinals begin the NL championship series with two games in St. Louis, game one starting at 8:37 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Who holds the record for most career strikeouts in the playoffs? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: False. In the 143 years of major league baseball, there have been 274,586 total home runs.

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