In the most anticipated A’s game of the year, the Oakland lineup came out flat, losing the deciding game of the ALDS to end one of the most improbable and incredible seasons in team history.
A day after Oakland’s thrilling walk off victory forced game five Thursday night, the A’s lost 6-0 and walked off the field for the final time of the 2012 season.
The Athletics lineup struggled to get anything started at the plate as Detroit starting pitcher Justin Verlander portrayed why he won the AL Cy Young and MVP awards a season ago, scattering four hits and striking out 11 in a dominant complete game performance.
“When Verlander gets on a roll like he was today especially once he gets into his rhythm, its tough to stop him,” Bob Melvin stated after the game. “Like a locomotive going at a high speed.”
Rookie pitcher Jarrod Parker kept the game close for the A’s, leaving the game with two runners aboard in the seventh inning, at the time allowing just two runs.
The Oakland bullpen, which had been a lynchpin to the team’s success down the stretch, could not keep the Tigers lineup quiet in relief. Ryan Cook had an outing he’d like to forget, recording zero outs while allowing a hit, walk, and plunking Miguel Cabrera on an 0-2 pitch that forced a run in.
When the smoke cleared, Detroit had scored four times to take a six run lead.
Josh Donaldson led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a single to keep hope alive for the A’s. The sold out Oakland crowd made its loudest cheer of the night as team leader Jonny Gomes made his first appearance of the series, pinch hitting for Derek Norris. Gomes would eventually fly out in his first at bat in over a week.
Most of the 36, 393 ticket holders stuck around as the eighth inning concluded, but the aura of the audience was depleted. Oakland fans waved their towels and hollered in desperation in the ninth with three outs remaining, hoping for one last miracle left in the tank.
Instead there was dust. Clink, clank, clunk.
Pitch number 122 of the night for Verlander was a weakly hit ground out to second, ending the the game and the A’s hopes of another surreal comeback.
As the Tigers celebrated their ALCS birth on the infield, a once stoic crowd broke out in a frenzy of “Let’s go Oakland” chants and towel waves that lasted nearly ten minutes, aknowledging their beloved team.
The players embraced each other, and tipped their caps to a proud fan base, as they realized that their season was over.
After 94 wins and an American League West Championship, the 2012 A’s have a magical season to look back on, and build on for the future.
“Its a bit of a shock when it finally does end, it was a heck of a story, it was a heck of a run for us, but it doesn’t feel any better at the end of the day.” Melvin admitted. “When you end up going home its a pretty empty feeling, hopefully we can go further next year.”