This time, Verlander didn’t allow a baserunner until Josh Reddick drew a one-out walk in the sixth — but the no-hit bid remained until Cespedes’ single the next inning.
The hardest hit ball was a fly to the center-field warning track by Stephen Vogt in the sixth.
Verlander struck out 10 in eight innings, giving him 21 Ks in these two starts. He has 43 strikeouts in his four playoff outings against Oakland the past two years.
The A’s saw their season end at the hands of Detroit for the third time in as many postseasons, including in a four-game sweep in the 2006 ALCS.
Oakland has lost its last six winner-take-all Game 5s and fell to 1-12 in potential clinchers since 2000. The A’s struck out 57 times for the most in a best-of-five playoff series.
Verlander earned the nod for the decider after Game 1 winner Max Scherzer pitched in relief of an 8-6, season-saving win Game 4 in Detroit. Manager Jim Leyland had no qualms turning again to Verlander, who went 13-12 this season.
When asked before the game about his bullpen availability, Leyland nodded his head and quipped, “Verlander, he’s available.”
Gray, meanwhile, looked overmatched this time. He wiped his brow and never looked comfortable.
A’s manager Bob Melvin went with Gray over 18-game winner and 40-year-old Bartolo Colon, who yielded three first-inning runs to lose Game 1.
These Game 5s becoming awfully familiar for both sides in their recent October rivalry.
Detroit held another clinching party in the visiting clubhouse of the Oakland Coliseum, where a raucous crowd of 46,959 swirled yellow towels until Benoit threw his hands in the air at the final out.
Catcher Alex Avila met Benoit in front of the mound for a long embrace as their teammates quickly joined them — with cheers of “Let’s go Oakland!” still ringing out.