Justin Verlander polished off the Oakland Athletics for the fourth straight time in the playoffs, allowing just two hits and one walk over eight scoreless innings in a 3-0 Game 5 ALDS win on Thursday. With the way Verlander was rolling — he had a perfect game through five and no-hitter through six — many wondered why manager Jim Leyland would lift him before the ninth and risk putting the game in the hands of the bullpen. Verlander had thrown 111 pitches, which is a lot, but the ace has thrown more than that many times in the past.
After the game, Verlander said he admitted to his coaches that he didn’t have much left after the eighth, but that he still wanted to pitch the ninth.
“I told them, ‘I’m running on fumes here, but send me back out there and let’s see what happens if I get three up and three down.’ Jim (Leyland) told me we don’t want to bring in our closer with men on base and a sticky situation (if I let a runner on) and they take me out. So that made sense to me and (Joaquin) Benoit’s been great all year,” Verlander told TBS’ David Aldridge after the game.
Aldridge also asked if that was the best command Verlander ever had of his pitches — which seemed like a pretty unlikely possibility given that Verlander has thrown no-hitters before — and the pitcher said it wasn’t quite his best.
“Not the best ever, but it felt good out there. It’s the first time in a while my changeup’s felt really good. Obviously this lineup with a bunch of left-handed hitters, that was a big pitch for me.”
Verlander has now thrown 30 consecutive scoreless innings in the playoffs against the A’s. Does he own them in the postseason or what? You almost have to feel badly for Oakland. So much for those Kate Upton cutouts serving as a distraction to the pitcher, huh?