Justin Verlander can no longer join an exclusive club with Don Larsen and Roy Halladay, but he’s still on the verge of leading his team to the ALCS.
Verlander’s no-hit bit ended with two outs in the seventh inning after Yoenis Cespedes hit a hard grounder past shortstop Jhonny Peralta and into center field. Having Jose Iglesias in the game there probably wouldn’t have helped him. With his chance at the no-hitter in the rear view mirror, Verlander quickly bounced back and struck out Seth Smith swinging, so he now has seven scoreless innings under his belt in this decisive Game 5.
The Tigers lead the Athletics 3-0 going into the top of the eighth inning at O.co Coliseum. Oakland has six more outs to keep their season alive.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.