After watching the Tigers offense struggle throughout the series and seeing closer Jose Valverde blow a save in game four last night, Tigers fans were in a state of panic. Many tweeted/commented/posted that ace Justin Verlander would need to pitch a complete game shutout if the Tigers were going to advance to the American League Championship series. They were half kidding, but half serious as well.
As it turned out, Verlander did not need a shoutout as the Tigers scored six runs. He pitched one anyway allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out 11. It was the first post-season shutout for a Tigers pitcher since right hander Joe Coleman blanked the Athletics with 14 punch outs in game three of the 1972 playoffs.
Starting pitching is the reason the Tigers made the playoffs and the reason they made it through the first round. The quartet of Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer posted a combined ERA of 1.30 and 41/10 strikeout/walk ratio in 34 2/3 innings in the five-game series.
The Tigers will not know their ALCS opponent or even whether they'll open at home or on the road until the Orioles and Yankees decide their series on Friday night. If the Orioles win, the Tigers will open at Detroit on Saturday. If the Yankees win, the Tigers will open in New York on the same day,.