Friday, October 11, 2013

Athletics Fall To Tigers In ALDS Game 5

Mojo in Oaktown runs out as Oakland falls to Detroit in yet another Game 5 in the ALDS

OAKLAND, Calif. – In a rematch of Game 2 the Oakland Athletics sent out rookie pitcher Sonny Gray for the pitching duties to matchup against the former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander in a winner take all Game 5 of the ALDS.

Verlander was bringing in 22 consecutive innings of scoreless ball against the A’s, while Gray was only making his second postseason start of his career, in what was also his second of the series.
The pitching matchup proved to be similar from Game 2 as Gray and Verlander were un-hittable through three full innings, with Gray allowing just one walk to Prince Fielder. But for Gray the wheels began to spin like a truck in mud. He continued to pound the zone with fastballs and gave up back-to-back hits to Torii Hunter and a home to Miguel Cabrera in the top of the fourth inning.
TOD FIERNER / Courtesy -- Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera (right) hit a two-run home run in he fourth inning off of Oakland Athletics Sonny Gray. Cabrera’s two-run home run would prove to be all the Tigers would need to clinch their second straight ALDS title at the O.Co Coliseum on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013.

The home run for Cabrera was his first since Sept. 17, also his first extra base hit in the same time span.

“He didn’t have the leg driving he normally does, and I surprised he pulled it for a home run,” said Oakland A’s Manager Bob Melvin. “But I guess you can’t be surprised when Cabrera hits a home run.”

Gray would continue to get in trouble in the inning after he got Fielder to ground out, he allowed back-to-back singles to Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta before walking Alex Avila to load the bases. After a mound visit by pitching Coach Curt Young, Gray would get Infante to ground out to escape what would have been instantaneous danger.

Gray would again come out to pitch the fifth and sixth innings, but would be pulled in the sixth after allowing back-to-back hits to Martinez and Peralta again. Gray would leave the game to a standing ovation from the crowd, as Melvin also gave the youngster a round of applause on his way to the mound.

Reliever Dan Otero would come in and get out of the inning, but only before allowing one of the two inherited runners from Gray to score pushing the score to 3-0 in favor of the Tigers.
TOD FIERNER/ Courtesy -- Detroit Tigers Justin Verlander proved to be too much for the Oakland Athletics to handle in Game 5 of the ALDS on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. Verlander was dominant pitching a perfect game until the sixth inning, a no-hitter until the seventh inning and eventually pitching eight scoreless innings in the 3-0 win.

In the other dugout it was Verlander who continue to stifle the Oakland offense as he took his perfect game bid into the sixth inning before walking Josh Reddick with one out. Reddick would advance to second on a fly ball from Stephen Vogt, the hero from Game 2, but he would be left at second as Coco Crisp flied out to end the inning.

Otero would work a clean inning, allowing two hits to Fielder and Martinez, but not allowing any runners to score, keeping the score at 3-0.

“Since he came up for his, look at his numbers, they have been fantastic,” said Oakland Manager Bob Melvin. “We used in a number of roles, and he’s been a guy we really leaned on late in games. And he was the first guy we called on tonight to come in and stop the rally.”

Verlander would continue to dominate with the no-hit bid still in tact but would give up a single to Yoenis Cespedes with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The fans would go crazy as Cespedes rounded first base, only to trot back to pound fists with first base Coach Ty Waller. However for the A’s fans and Cespedes, he would be left on-base as Verlander would strike out Seth Smith, for his eighth strikeout of the night.

Then it was Sean Doolittle’s turn to get some action as he came in from the bullpen. Doolittle would work a one-two-three inning, giving the A’s fans some hope that their team could work around the 3-0 deficit.

The bottom of the eighth inning saw Brandon Moss strike out for his third time in the game and Alberto Callaspo ground out to Fielder at first before Reddick got on-base for the second time in the game, this time with a single up the middle.

Still with a bit of hope in their pocket the A’s fans rose to their feet hoping that Vogt would get a clutch hit. However, it was Verlander who would have the last laugh as he recorded strikeout number 10 on the night.

“Justin was locked in tonight,” said Tigers Manager Jim Leyland. “I don’t know how he is locked in against a certain team, but he was.”

The top of the ninth brought in Australian closer Grant Balfour to face the Tigers top of the line up.

Balfour would strike out Austin Jackson, earning his third strikeout of the game, and Divisional Series record of 13, a record that Oakland’s Moss tied with his three in the game. Balfour would continue to do what he did throughout most of the season, get batters out as he got Hunter to fly out to Crisp in center for the second out. Then it was time to face Cabrera, who only had two hits after the first inning of each game in the series. Balfour would get Cabrera swinging, breathing one last breath of life into the stands of the O.Co Coliseum.

Down 3-0 and with the top of the lineup due the Tigers brought in closer Joaquin Benoit for Verlander, as well as their defensive replacements as Peralta and Cabrera went to the dugout in favor of Jose Iglesias and Ramon Santiago respectively.

“You feel relieved when Verlander doesn’t come out,” said Melvin. “But Benoit has been doing well too.”

“Verlander told me he was dead tired after the eighth inning,” said Leyland.

With the fans on their feet and chanting “Let’s Go Oakland,” Crisp started off the inning against Benoit with a ground out to second, bringing up Donaldson who had been slumping in the series, holding just a .150 average in the series into the at-bat against Benoit would strike out swinging.

Down to there last out former Stanford Cardinal product, and first year A’s shortstop Lowrie would step into the box to face Benoit, looking to give the Oakland fans some sort of miracle. But like Donaldson he had been slumping in the series, bringing a .105 average into the at-bat, but he would come through, hitting a double to left-center field.

That brought up one of the two hottest hitters for the A’s in the series, Cespedes, the player who broke up Verlander’s no-hit bid earlier in the game. Once again the fans jumped to their feet to cheer on their slugger.

Once again the fans chanted “Let’s Go Oakland,” as Cespedes took a pair of uninhibited hacks at pitches from Benoit.

With a two-ball and two-strike count Benoit would hit Cespedes on the inner leg, bringing the tying run to the plate in Seth Smith, who would work the count, but would eventually fly out to right field, ending the Oakland A’s season.

“I was worried when Smith came in,” said Leyland. “I wasn’t very comfortable.”

“Our fans were just waiting to get into a frenzy, we just needed to get some base runners, and let our fans pull us the way we did last year,” said Melvin.  “We just didn’t get any consistency, until the last inning.”
TOD FIERNER / Courtesy -- The Detroit Tigers celebrating on the field at the O.Co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. after recording the final out of the 2013 ALDS.

But you wouldn’t have noticed that the game was over by the way the Oakland fans stayed and cheered on the team again raining down chants of “Let’s Go Oakland,” as the Detroit Tigers rushed the field to celebrate on the infield.

The A’s loss to the Tigers makes it 10 consecutive playoff losses to the Tigers dating back to 2006 when they lost to the Tigers in the ALCS. The last six losses coming in the last two ALDS matchups from 2012 and 2013.

For the Tigers, they head to Boston to face the Red Sox in the ALCS.