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Justin Verlander, Tigers, eliminate A's again with 3-0 win

  • The Athletics' Yoenis Cespeds, who broke up Justin Verlander's no-hitter, is beaned by a pitch in the bottom of the ninth Thursday in Oakland. He was stranded to end game five of the American League Division Series, ending Oakland's season. (KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat)

OAKLAND — Once again, a game that matched starting pitchers Justin Verlander and Sonny Gray wound up simmering with drama. Unfortunately for the A's and their geeked-up fans, the histrionics this time had nothing to do with who would win the game. It was whether Verlander could toss the third no-hitter in MLB postseason history.

He couldn't. He gave up two hits in eight innings of work Thursday. But Verlander took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before Yoenis Cespedes singled up the middle. That was a brief moment of cheer for the A's, who were otherwise demoralized by Verlander in Game 5 of the American League Division Series.

As if that's anything new.

Oakland A's vs. Detroit Tigers ALDS Game 5

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Facing the A's for the fourth time in the past two postseasons — including two clinching Game 5s — Verlander ran his scoreless streak against them to 29 innings. It's the longest stretch of zeroes by any pitcher against any single team in MLB postseason history.

The A's will see Verlander's pitches in their sleep (or perhaps hear them) all offseason, just as they did a year ago.

“Justin rises to the occasion,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I can usually tell by the look on his face and his demeanor prior to a game when he's zeroed in, and he was locked in tonight.”

In Game 2, Verlander's out pitch was his curveball. Thursday, the A's swung through a lot of two-strike fastballs.

“That's what happens when you're in a two-strike count against a guy that's throwing a nasty breaking ball, a good changeup and a four-seam fastball that's rising,” the A's Brandon Moss said. “You get caught in between, you get caught kind of guessing. He was good.”

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