Verlander aces winner-take-all test

The Detroit Tigers rode Justin Verlander all the way to the ALCS.

The reigning AL Cy Young winner struck out 11 in a 6-0 shutout of the Oakland Athletics in Game 5.

That’s the most strikeouts in a shutout in a winner-take-all game in postseason history. The old record belonged to Sandy Koufax, who struck out 10 in a shutout in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series.

In fact, Cliff Lee, who did so in the 2010 ALDS, is the only other pitcher with 11 strikeouts in a winner-take-all game.

Most K in Winner-Take-All Game
MLB Postseason History

Verlander’s fastball topped out at 98 mph, and accounted for seven of the 11 strikeouts. The A’s were 0-12 with seven strikeouts on at-bats ending in a pitch out of the zone.

Stephen Drew was Verlander’s primary victim, striking out in all four of his at-bats. The only other players to do that in a winner-take-all postseason game are Ben Grieve (2000) and Jerry Reuss (1981).

With this performance, Verlander joins Lee as the only pitchers with consecutive starts with 11 or more strikeouts in a single postseason. Verlander’s 22 strikeouts set an LDS record.

Prior to Verlander, only two Tigers had struck out 11 batters in a postseason game (Bill Donovan in 1907 and Joe Coleman in 1972). Verlander has now done it three times. In fact, only Randy Johnson (four) has more 11-strikeout postseason games.

Postseason Shutouts
Tigers History

This was the first postseason shutout by a Tigers pitcher since Coleman in 1972. Bobo Newson (1940) and George Mullin (1909) are the only other Tigers with a postseason shutout.

Verlander was the fifth reigning Cy Young winner to start a winner-take-all postseason game.

The previous four (Roy Halladay, Barry Zito, David Cone, Steve Carlton) all saw their teams lose.

Overpowering the A’s all game, Verlander made sure that couldn’t happen.