Justin Verlander dominates as Tigers defeat Athletics to advance to ALCS

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The Tigers have advanced to the ALCS for the third straight season.

Justin Verlander threw eight scoreless innings in a dominant outing while Miguel Cabrera provided some thump as the Tigers defeated the Athletics 3-0 in Game 5 of the ALDS on Thursday at O.co Coliseum in Oakland.

While the Tigers were held scoreless by rookie right-hander Sonny Gray for eight innings back in Game 2, they got to him for three runs this time around. Miguel Cabrera had the big blow with a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his first extra-base hit of the series and his first home run since way back on September 17. The Tigers later added an insurance run in the sixth inning.

That was more than enough offense for Verlander, who struck out 10 batters and held the Athletics to just two hits and one walk. He was perfect until a one-out walk by Josh Reddick in the sixth inning and didn’t allow his first hit until a two-out single by Yoenis Cespedes in the seventh. Joaquin Benoit danced around some trouble in the ninth inning to keep the A’s off the board and lock down the series victory.

Verlander has been Oakland’s worst nightmare over the past two postseasons, going 3-0 with a 0.29 ERA and 43 strikeouts over 31 innings. That includes two Game 5 victories. Now that’s called ownership.

After battling back from a 2-1 deficit in the ALDS, the Tigers will now play the Red Sox in the ALCS. That series will begin Saturday night at Fenway Park in Boston.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.