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Friday, October 11, 2013
Verlander gets an A for his accolades

By ESPN Stats & Information

Justin Verlander owns the Oakland Athletics. Miguel Cabrera used to own the inside of the plate -- until recently.

For one night, those two came together to combine on a win that pushed their team, the Detroit Tigers, into the American League Championship Series for the third straight year. They're the first AL team to reach three straight ALCS' since the Yankees did so from 1998 to 2001.

Verlander untouchable
Verlander is now 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA against the Athletics in the postseason (4-0, 0.29 ERA in five starts against them). He’s 3-4 with a 5.14 ERA against all other postseason foes.

Verlander has thrown 30 consecutive scoreless innings against the Athletics in postseason play. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that is a record for one pitcher against one team. The previous mark was 28 innings by Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants against the Athletics from 1905 to 1911.

Verlander is the second pitcher in major league history with 10 or more strikeouts and no runs allowed in back-to-back postseason games.

The other was Sandy Koufax in Games 5 and 7 of the 1965 World Series.

Verlander is one of four starters with multiple wins in winner-take-all postseason games, along with Bob Gibson, Chris Carpenter and Matt Cain.

He is also the only pitcher to have multiple postseason-clinching wins in which he went at least eight scoreless innings and struck out at least 10. They came in the 2012 and 2013 ALDS against the Athletics.

Only two other pitchers have one such win: Orval Overall for the 1908 Cubs against the Tigers and Sandy Koufax for the 1965 Dodgers against the Twins.

Verlander’s five postseason games with at least 10 strikeouts tie the record for most all-time. He shares the mark with Randy Johnson, Bob Gibson and Cliff Lee.

Verlander's no-hit bid went 6 2/3 innings, the longest no-hit bid in a winner-take-all game in postseason history.

The previous longest was 5 2/3 innings by Ralph Terry for the New York Yankees against the San Francisco Giants in the 1962 World Series.

It's the longest no-hit AND perfect-game bids (5 1/3 innings) in Tigers postseason history.

How he won
Verlander was lights-out, getting 24 swings and misses, which matched his most in any start over the last five seasons. He got 18 swings and misses with his fastball, his most in any start over the last five seasons.

That’s tied for the most missed swings against a fastball in a postseason start in that span, matching the 18 by Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants against the Atlanta Braves in 2010.

Afterward, Verlander said that he had his best changeup in a while. He was right.

Verlander held Athletics left-handed hitters to 1-for-20 in this game, helped by his throwing 12 of 17 changeups for strikes. His 71 percent strike rate was his best against lefties with that pitch in nearly two months.

Grade A
Verlander had a Bill James Game Score of 87 in this win, the third-best by any pitcher in a winner-take-all postseason game.

The only pitchers better are Verlander himself, who scored an 89 against the Athletics in Game 5 of last year’s ALDS, and Koufax for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Minnesota Twins in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series.

Cabrera finally gets ahold of one
If you read the Stats & Info preview for this game, you’d have known just how badly Cabrera was struggling against pitches thrown between where he stood in the batter’s box and the midpoint of home plate (i.e., the inner half).

It only took one pitch for Cabrera to erase that, with his first home run since September 17. His two-run shot gave him 21 RBIs with the Tigers in postseason play. He’s one shy of the franchise record, set by Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, who didn’t have the benefit of playing in an LDS or LCS.

Rookie pitchers, of which Athletics starter Sonny Gray is one, have now lost their last six winner-take-all postseason games.

Stat of the Night
The Athletics have lost six straight winner-take-all postseason games. That’s the longest such losing streak in postseason history.