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Tigers vs. Athletics, 2012 ALDS Game 4: Tigers blog laments epic meltdown by Jose Valverde

The Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics are set to meet for a do-or-die Game 5 in the ALDS on Thursday night at 9:37 p.m. ET in Oakland, but only because the Tigers suffered an epic meltdown and blew big ninth-inning lead in a 4-3 loss on Wednesday. Over at SB Nation's Tigers blog, Bless You Boys, the misery and dread piled on in stages.

During the first stage came as closer Jose Valverde allowed a single to Josh Reddick, and consecutive doubles to Josh Donaldson and Seth Smith, all of which combined to tie the game at 3-3 with no outs. Then Valverde got George Kottaras to foul out and Cliff Pennington to strike out looking, which left the Tigers one out away from advancing to the ALCS.

Unfortunately for Tigers faithful, the final stage of misery came when Coco Crisp clinched the game for Oakland with a single in the next at bat, as explained by Al Beaton:

Just as it seemed Valverde would do us all a very small favor and send the game into extras, Crisp singled to right. Garcia charged the ball, but failed to pick it cleanly, Smith scoring the winning run without a throw. What's worse, it appeared Garcia could have had a play at the plate if he doesn't overrun the ball. Rookie mistake.

The Tigers were 3 outs away from clinching the ALDS. Jose Valverde allowed 4 hits and 3 runs, sending the series to a winner take all game 5.

Justin Verlander will take the mound for the Tigers in Game 5, starting opposite A's starter Jarrod Parker. Game time is set for 9:37 p.m. ET.