Justin Verlander struck out 11 in a four-hitter to send the Detroit Tigers back to the AL championship series, beating the Oakland Athletics 6-0 in the decisive Game 5 of their division series Thursday night.
After squandering two chances to clinch the series, including blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead in Game 4, Verlander became Detroit's ultimate closer.
The Tigers will face either the New York Yankees or Baltimore Orioles, tied at 2-all heading into their Game 5 on Friday night in New York. Game 1 of the ALCS is scheduled for Saturday.
Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP, was so sharp nobody in the bullpen ever got up to throw. He struck out 22 in his wins on both ends of this nail-biting series.