OAKLAND, Calif. — Right-hander Justin Verlander pitched eight shutout innings and Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run home run as the Detroit Tigers clinched the American League Division Series with a 3-0 victory Thursday night over the Oakland Athletics in Game 5 at the O.co Coliseum.
The Tigers advanced to the AL Championship Series for the third straight year and will face the Boston Red Sox. Game 1 is at 8 p.m. Saturday at Fenway Park. The second game of the seven-game series is at 8 p.m. Sunday, followed by the next three in Detroit on Tuesday (4 p.m.), Wednesday (8 p.m.) and Thursday (8 p.m.).
The Tigers earned a 4-3 edge over the Red Sox during their regular-season series.
For the second straight season, Verlander beat the A’s in a Game 5 of the ALDS at Oakland. Last year he threw a four-hit shutout, striking out 11 and walking one in a 6-0 Tigers win.
This time he allowed just two hits over eight innings while striking out 10 and walking one.
Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit allowed a two-out double to Jed Lowrie in the ninth then hit Yoenis Cespedes with a pitch, but he retired Seth Smith on a fly ball to right field for the third out and the save.
The A’s, who have won back-to-back AL West titles, fell to 1-12 in their past 13 potential postseason series clinching games, all in the ALDS. They lost Game 5 in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2012 and now, 2013.
Verlander retired the first 16 batters he faced before Josh Reddick ended his perfect-game bid with a walk with one out in the sixth. But Verlander retired Stephen Vogt on a deep fly to right-center — and Coco Crisp on a soft fly to left.
A’s left fielder Yoenis Cespedes broke up Verlander’s bid for his first postseason no-hitter with a two-out single in the seventh. Facing a 1-0 count, Cespedes grounded Verlander’s 95 mph, outside fastball to center field. Verlander struck out Smith on a nasty curveball for the third out. Reddick lined a two-out single to center in the eighth, but Verlander struck out Vogt.
A’s rookie Sonny Gray took the loss, allowing three runs on six hits, including Cabrera’s homer, over five innings. He walked four — one of those intentional — and struck out three.
Verlander and Gray met in a rematch of their Game 2 duel at Oakland. Neither pitcher figured in the decision Saturday, but Gray, making his career postseason debut, threw eight shutout innings and struck out nine in a 1-0 A’s victory. Verlander struck out 11 and pitched seven scoreless innings.
This time, Verlander had his way.
After going scoreless against Gray for 11 straight innings, the Tigers finally broke through to score twice in the fourth. Torii Hunter broke up Gray’s no-hitter, grounding a single to center with one out, and Cabrera launched a 1-0 fastball over the left field fence to make it 2-0.
The Tigers added a run in the sixth to make it 3-0.
Verlander improved to 4-0 in five career postseason starts against the A’s.
NOTES: Peralta, who started Games 3 and 4 in left field, returned to shortstop, his natural position, for Game 5, pushing Jose Iglesias to the bench. Don Kelly started in left field. Peralta entered Game 5 batting .375 (3-for-8) with five RBIs, a double and a three-run homer, which he hit in Detroit’s 8-6 win in Game 4. … Oakland 2B Alberto Callaspo made his first start of the series, replacing Eric Sogard, who 0-for-9 in the first four games. … Former A’s right-hander Dave Stewart, the MVP of the 1989 World Series, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.