OAKLAND -- Thursday night marked the eighth game in which A's third baseman Josh Donaldson has faced Justin Verlander in his career. The first seven included Verlander's complete-game shutout in Game 5 of last year's ALDS, his seven scoreless innings in Game 2 this year, a seven-inning, two-hit outing in a regular-season game last May and another regular-season game last September in which Verlander threw six innings and did not give up a run.
And Donaldson still had this to say about Verlander's performance in Thursday's Game 5 -- eight shutout innings that lifted the Tigers to a 3-0 win and a third consecutive ALCS: "That was the best I've seen him."
Verlander did not allow a baserunner until Josh Reddick's one-out walk in the sixth and didn't give up a hit until Yoenis Cespedes grounded a single back up the middle with two outs in the seventh. He allowed two hits total and struck out 10. He threw 111 pitches.
Among them were his normal assortment of mid-90s fastballs, big-breaking curves and the occasional changeup diving away from left-handers. It is an assortment of pitches the A's have gotten very familiar with over the past few seasons and yet -- when it's mattered most -- have not been able to conquer.