Tigers ride Justin Verlander back to ALCS

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Oakland struck out 50 times in a series of swings and misses riding high only a week ago after stunning the two-time reigning AL champion Rangers on the regular season’s final day to win the AL West. The Ks were the most in A’s franchise history for a five-game series.

Josh Reddick, who hit a team-leading 32 homers, struck out 10 times for the most by an A’s player in a postseason series.

The A’s payroll of $59.5 million is lowest in the majors. But the last game was the only lopsided one.

Detroit eliminated Oakland again after the Tigers pulled off a four-game sweep in the 2006 AL championship series — the last postseason appearance by the A’s.

“We didn’t think it was going to end today, not for a second,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We knew we were going up against a good pitcher. That didn’t mean we didn’t think we were going to win. We’ve gone up against good pitchers this year. And it’s 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.”

The Tigers now look to get through another round after falling in six games to the Rangers in last year’s ALCS.

Leyland won this one the hard way.

In 1997 with this same playoff format — featuring the higher seed opening on the road for the first two games — Leyland’s Florida Marlins won the first two games at home then completed a three-game sweep of the NL division series against the favored San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park on the way to a World Series title. That is Leyland’s lone championship in 21 years as a manager.

The Tigers‘ three stolen bases matched the team record in postseason game, done so for the first time since Oct. 5, 1984, against Kansas City.

NOTES: The only person with more Ks than Reddick in a division was Seattle’s Bret Boone with 11 in 2001. … The A’s have lost eight of their last nine postseason series. … Cabrera has reached base safely in all 16 of his postseason games with the Tigers. … Verlander is Detroit’s all-time postseason leader in strikeouts (70) and wins (5). … MC Hammer, former A’s bat boy and club executive, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

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