Just marvelous, Justin Verlander

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

OAKLAND–There is a reason the Detroit Tigers gave Justin Verlander a 7-year extension(with an option for the 2020 season) for $180 million this past March.That is twice the total payroll of the Oakland A’s.  On game five of the American League Divisional Series, Verlander gave a pitching exhibition.

The Oakland A’s bats had no chance. Verlander was a master, mixing his over 96 mph four seam fastball, with a slider in the mid 80’s, an unhittable curve ball, (his best pitch last night), and an ocassional change,just to remind A’s hitter that on this night he was the devil, that produced 10 strike outs and zero runs for eight innings. Justin Verlander, has won just about everything a pitcher can win, except a World Series ring.

 He was the Rookie of the Year in 2006, he has two no-hitters, he has won a Cy Young and an MVP Award. Rafael Belliard, an old friend, and first base coach for the Detroit Tigers told me prior to game five at the Oakland Coliseum: “We are confident with Verlander, he is one of the best, and we have been focused on one thing, and one thing only- since Spring Training, going back to the World Series and winning this time”.

The Detroit Tigers were the favorites during last year’s World Series, but the Giants surprised everybody and swept them. After Miguel Cabrera hit his first home run of this postseason in the fourth inning, you knew the game was over. I made a remark on the broadcast that the way Verlander was pitching those 2 runs he had of support, seemed like 8 runs. Verlander did not allowed a runner until he walked Josh Reddick with one out in the sixth.

 He had a no-hitter with two outs in the seventh, until Yoenis Céspedes got a clean line shot for a base hit into center field. The best player this year for the A’s was Josh Donaldson, their third baseman, but the best athlete and best ballplayer is Yoenis Céspedes, and by-the-way he was their best hitter again in the postseason, establishing records for Oakland A’S in postseason.

But back to Justin. In two games, during this five game Divisional Series, Justin Verlander did not allowed a run and struck out 21 Athletics. Going back to the 2012 postseason, Verlander has pitched 30 consecutive scoreless innings against Oakland.

A crowd of 46,959 was rocking all night (not a sellout) traditionally games that start at 5PM at the Oakland Coliseum do not sell out, it is not a “comfortable”hour, and then to increase the traffic stress, there was a “Pink”concert next door at the Oracle Arena, which got starter around 7PM.

It was a good season for the Oakland A’s, they won their division for the second time in a row, but last night the best team won. Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera playing with one leg, is better than 40% of the regular players on the field that are 100%.

Congratulations Tigers, good luck the rest of the way. The Red Sox should not be easy, they never are, specially at Fenway.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio voice for the Oakland A’s and does News and Commentary weekly for Sportstalk Radio


Vogt, Gray lead the A’s past the Tigers in Game 2


Justin Verlander was filthy and Sonny Gray surprised everyone with his poise and confidence, but ultimately Stephen Vogt and his inside-out, single through a drawn-in infield stole the show on Saturday night.

Vogt’s single with the bases loaded scored Yoenis Cespedes with the game’s only run in the A’s 1-0 win that evened the ALDS series with Game 3 scheduled for Detroit on Monday.

You come up bases loaded, nobody out, and that’s what you dream of,” Vogt said.  “Look for something over the plate, stay in the middle of the field, just fortunate to come through.”

Prior to his game-winning moment, Vogt looked like a lot of other frustrated hitters on Saturday.  Verlander and Gray not only dominated the proceedings to that point, they embarrassed hitters along the way, combining to strike out 20, marking the first time in Major League post-season history that both starting pitchers struck out at least nine batters and didn’t allow a run.

Verlander and Gray both scattered four singles over the length of their outings, with the Detroit starter going seven while striking out 11.  Gray went eight innings and struck out nine.

Verlander’s big outing wasn’t a surprise, but when he produced one of the best starts of his career, the fact that Gray was able to match him nearly pitch-for-pitch was.   While Verlander backed off the heat just a little and had A’s hitters guessing what pitch was coming next, Gray stuck to his fastball-curveball combo to perfection, blowing up the strike zone and using his devastating curve as his out pitch.

Remember, Verlander’s a 30-year old veteran with six All-Star appearances while Gray’s made just 10 starts at the Major League level.

“You know, Sonny did one heck of a job,” Verlander said.  “He was able to use his angst and energy for a positive and a lot of young guys it works against them.  That’s why veterans usually seem to do better in post-season pressure.  He handled himself like a veteran and it was impressive.”

Both starters allowed a pair of baserunners to reach in the fifth inning, but they turned up the pressure at that point instead of letting the pressure cook them.  With two on and one out, Gray struck out Austin Jackson and Vogt threw out Jose Iglesias attempting to steal second base.  Verlander allowed the first two runners to reach and then retired Josh Reddick and struck out Vogt and Eric Sogard.

In the A’s ninth, Cespedes and Seth Smith singled off Al Alburquerque and Reddick was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Detroit manager Jim Leyland opted for Rick Porcello—normally a starter—at that point and he allowed Vogt’s game-winning hit on a 1-1 pitch.

The A’s avoided falling behind 2-0 in the series and will need to win just one of the two games in Detroit to force a series-deciding Game 5 back in Oakland on Thursday.

Miguel Cabrera went 1 for 4 with a strikeout and Detroit leadoff man Jackson struck out in all four of his plate appearances.  The Tigers’ Don Jackson joined Cespedes and Seth Smith as the only hitters in the game to produce two hits.

On Monday, Jarrod Parker will face the Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez at 1:07 EST in Detroit.