Way too much Justin Verlander.
Detroit’s ace held down the A’s for the second time in five games Thursday, pitching a complete-game shutout and striking out 11 as the Tigers won 6-0 to move on to the ALCS.
Verlander fanned 22 in his two starts, setting a new record for strikeouts in a Divisional Series. The previous record of 21 was shared by Kevin Brown and Cliff Lee.
It was the first complete-game win for a Tigers starter in the postseason since Jack Morris completed Game 4 of the 1984 World Series.
The A’s were able to keep it close for six innings tonight, with the Tigers getting their lone two runs in the third after Austin Jackson doubled in Omar Infante and came around to score on a wild pitch.
The Tigers’ four-run seventh that settled the matter. A’s starter Jarrod Parker exited with runners on the corners and one out. Ryan Cook came in and failed to retire any of the three batters he faced, making it a 4-0 game. The Tigers got two more runs after Cook left, the first on an RBI single and the second on a Stephen Drew error.
While they were far more concerned about their own fate, the Tigers got good news from the other ALDS in the form of the Orioles’ win over the Yankees tonight. It means they still could have home-field advantage in the ALCS of Baltimore can prevail again in Game 5. And if the Yankees win instead, at least CC Sabathia will be burnt instead of getting the Game 1 start. The Tigers figure to use Doug Fister in Game 1, Max Scherzer in Game 2, Verlander in Game 3 and Anibal Sanchez in Game 4 of the ALCS.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been eliminated from contention for the NL Central crown and are hanging on by the thinnest of threads in the race for the second NL Wild Card, two and a half games back of the Rockies with the Brewers in between. Last night those dim playoff hopes took what may have been a fatal blow thanks to a couple of foul balls that knocked Yadier Molina out of the game and, possibly, out for the season.
In the seventh inning of last night’s Cubs-Cardinals game Molina took a Kris Bryant foul ball off of his mask. It sent him to his knees. He gathered himself, set back up and, on the very next pitch, took a second foul ball, right to the mask. He was much slower in rising that time and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny immediately — and wisely — pulled Molina from the game.
Molina is being monitored for a concussion. Whether he has one or not, prudence would dictate sitting him down for the rest of what are likely the Cardinals final six games of 2017.
Last night, in the Cubs-Cardinals game in St. Louis, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell dove into the stands to catch a foul ball. As so often happens in such instances, a fan’s food got disrupted. Specifically, a plate of nachos. That’s sad, but as we learned last week, if you sit down close where there is no netting, you assume the risk of loss!
Russell, though, did the guy a solid. A couple of innings later when he came out for the bottom half, Russell delivered the fan a new plate of nachos. He even posed for a selfie with the guy. That’s beyond solid. Watch:
After the game Russell explained his actions, saying “You don’t want to get in front of a man and his nachos.” Especially that guy’s nachos. Good play Addison.