Verlander's High-Low Approach Baffles A's in Game 5
The New York Giants' Christy Mathewson shut out the Philadelphia Athletics in three starts spanning 28 innings during the 1905 World Series, setting a postseason record for the most consecutive scoreless frames against a single opponent. Last night, Justin Verlander broke that century-plus old record by once again torturing the A's -- the Oakland A's. After his 10-strikeout gem in the decisive fifth game of the ALDS, Verlander has now kept Oakland from crossing home plate for 30 consecutive innings.
Facing an A's lineup featuring seven players swinging from the left side, Verlander worked the outside corner with his fastball (thrown 66 percent of the time) and changeup (17 percent). Overall, the Tigers righty tossed 64 percent of his pitches to the outer third of the strike zone. Verlander elevated his fastball, and buried his changeup at hitters' knees.
He showed excellent command of his heater, painting the high-and-away corner of the zone and practically never leaving one over the heart of the plate. He threw 35 of his 73 fastballs (48 percent) to the upper third of the strike zone. Verlander punched out seven A's with his fastball, including swinging Ks against Brandon Moss (three times), Josh Donaldson (twice) and Stephen Vogt. Oakland batters whiffed 18 times in 38 swings (47 percent) against Verlander's gas -- nearly triple the major league average (16.5 percent).
Verlander's fastball location vs. Oakland in ALDS Game 5
Verlander's changeup, by contrast, tumbled to the bottom of the zone. He threw his changeup low about 69 percent of the time, and left just one off-speed pitch high all night. Jed Lowrie went down swinging on a changeup located more than a foot off the plate.
Verlander's changeup location vs. Oakland in ALDS Game 5
Verlander's dominant Game 5 outing was the second-best playoff start ever for a Tiger according to Game Score, the Bill James-created stat measuring a pitcher's performance on a 0-100 scale based on innings pitched, Ks, walks, hits and runs allowed. Who's the best? That would be Verlander, who also eliminated the A's last year in ALDS Game 5.
Highest Game Scores (GSc) for Tigers pitchers in playoff history