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.
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.
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.
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.