He's the planet's best pitcher, and he proved it tonight. A Herculean 122 pitch effort with 12 K's has propelled the Detroit Tigers into the ALCS.
This game proceeded as one might have expected. Depsite runners at 2nd in both the 1st and 2nd inning, Parker managed to work out of those jams. In the 3rd, though, is when the Tigers struck for 2 runs. Omar Infante, who had been a thorn in the side of the A's all series (sound familiar? What is it with Tigers' 2B?) singled and was then advanced to 2nd on a WP by Parker. A tough WP, too, as Derek Norris really had a hard time tonight blocking balls in the dirt. That would be moot, though, as Austin Jackson hit a knuckling line drive to left center to drive him in. A Quentin Berry sac bunt would move him to 3rd, then the WP bug would strike again, allowing Jackson to score.
The 7th put this game out of reach, though. An Austin Jackson single with runners on 1st and 3rd would extend their lead to 3-0, a Ryan Cook HBP to Cabrera with the bases loaded made it 4-0.... and well, do you really want me to continue? The way Verlander was dealing, it was merely a formality for him to close out the game in dominant fashion.
Indeed, I don't want to focus on the negatives of this game. Jarrod Parker proved down the stretch that he is a money pitcher. There were 15 walkoff victories, none bigger than last night's. There was a 4-game home sweep of the Yankees, something that no Oakland A's team had ever acomplished. Despite the minute chances given to them at the beginning of the season, the A's will hang a 2012 AL West Banner at the Coliseum next year, and knocked off the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels to do it. Yoenis Cespedes proved to be the signing of the offseason, and is a legitimate five-tool player. Sean Doolittle emerged as one of the game's premier setup men, and one of the game's best stories, period.
Seriously, so many stories made this season great. And this was a great series, too. Now, Tigers, just make sure that the Yankees don't get to the World Series.
For the final time this season, good night. And don't drink too hard.