It didn’t look good for the Tigers when A’s speedster Coco Crisp hit a leadoff home run in the top of the first inning of Saturday night’s ALDS Game 1 in Detroit. But that feeling changed pretty quickly.
Verlander settled in after Crisp’s shot to right field, yielding just two hits over the rest of his outing while fanning 11 total batters in an eventual 3-1 victory.
The right-hander was hitting 98 mph with his fastball in the seventh inning, even with temperatures hovering just above 40 degrees at Comerica Park.
According to ESPN’s Stats & Info, Verlander is the first American League pitcher to rack up 11 or more strikeouts over seven innings or fewer in a postseason game since Pedro Martinez in 1999. At one point, the Tigers’ ace punched out five Oakland hitters in a row.
Things should get a little easier for the A’s in Game 2 against Doug Fister, but it’s safe to say they have their backs against the wall in this five-game divisional series. With one more game to play in the Motor City.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.