Verlander's heater too hot for A's hitters

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Justin Verlander struck out 11 batters, the third-most in Tigers postseason history.Justin Verlander is the first pitcher with at least 11 strikeouts in seven or fewer innings in an American League playoff game since Pedro Martinez in Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS.

11+ K in 7 IP or Fewer
AL Postseason History

But it didn’t start well.

Coco Crisp led off the game with a homer, the fourth leadoff home run in Oakland Athletics postseason history and the first since Ray Durham in Game 3 of the 2002 ALDS.

Verlander allowing a leadoff homer wasn’t a huge surprise. He led the majors this season with four leadoff home runs allowed.

Crisp's homer traveled 347 feet, making it the second-shortest home run of the season at Comerica Park. It’s also the shortest homer Verlander has allowed this season.

After that, Verlander cruised, allowing just two more hits. Verlander earned his first career Game 1 victory after losing his previous three.

Most Strikeouts in a Game
Tigers Postseason History

His 11 strikeouts are tied for the third-most in Tigers postseason history, three shy of Joe Coleman's franchise-record 14 strikeouts in Game 3 of the 1972 ALCS.

In total, Tigers pitchers struck out 14 A's batters, matching the most in a postseason game in Tigers history. They also struck out 14 batters in the game in 1972 that Coleman pitched, and that game also happened to be against the Athletics.

Oakland’s 14 strikeouts are tied for the second-most in a postseason game in Athletics franchise history. They had 15 in Game 2 of the 1973 World Series against the New York Mets.

How did Verlander shut down the A’s lineup?

• Verlander induced 21 swings-and-misses, his most in nine career postseason starts and tied for the fourth-most by any starter in a postseason game in the last four seasons. Eight of his 11 strikeouts were swinging.

• Verlander induced 12 misses on just 24 swings against his fastball, the highest miss percentage with his fastball in the last four seasons.

• After Crisp’s leadoff homer, Verlander didn’t allow another hit with his fastball. A's hitters were 1-for-12 with eight strikeouts in at-bats ending with a Verlander fastball and are now 5-for-37 (.135) with 18 strikeouts against it this season.

• Verlander's fastball averaged 95.7 mph, his second-fastest in a start this season. It averaged 95.3 mph through five innings and 97.5 mph after that.

• Verlander had four fastball strikeouts through five innings and four in the sixth and seventh alone. Three of his first four fastball strikeouts came after he threw a fastball on the previous pitch and three of his final four fastball strikeouts came after he threw an offspeed pitch on the previous pitch.