The Detroit Tigers leaned heavily on ace pitcher Justin Verlander during the winner-take-all ALDS Game 5 against the Oakland Athletics, and the Cy Young candidate responded with a complete game, four-hit shutout punctuated by 11 strikeouts.
In the biggest game of the season to date, he would not be denied. In fact, Verlander told reporters after the game that veteran manager Jim Leyland knew it was his moment. Asked whether Leyland talked to him about going to the bullpen with a comfortable 6-0 lead, Verlander responded by saying: "No, he knew better."
Verlander is a freak of nature. He has tossed more than 200 regular-season innings in each of the past six seasons, and yet his fastball routinely touches the high 90s and his stuff is nearly untouchable.
Kurt Mensching of Bless You Boys points out that so far in the postseason the Tigers' ace has tossed 16 innings and allowed just seven hits and one run while recording 22 strikeouts, and the lone run came from the first batter Verlander faced in the ALDS.